Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) did not wait long to attack and power away from the rest of the field in the elite women’s race at the Dutch national cyclocross championships in Surhuisterveen, the Netherlands on Saturday. She won dominantly, riding away on lap one and was never in danger of being caught throughout the race.
Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles), who started the season on a tear but has been quiet of late, captured the silver medal with women’s under-23 world champion Annemarie Worst (ERA-Circus) rounding out the podium in third.
The course in Surhuisterveen was diabolical. The parcours navigated through a warehouse-like building and included multiple stair sections and even a sand pit. Deep mud made the race that much harder.
Defending champion Marianne Vos (WM3) was a notable absence on the start line on Saturday. She has been dealing with the effects of a cold and in making sure she is healthy for the world championships, she decided not to race. She also skipped the GP Leuven last weekend.
Kaptheijns shot off the start line to take the holeshot, but Brand was right behind her. Brand wasted little time in charging ahead of Kaptheijns and by the end of the first heavy mud section, she had a noticeable lead. Worst slotted into second while Kaptheijns dropped to third. At the end of the opening lap, Brand held a seven-second lead over Worst with Kaptheijns just behind.
On the second lap, Katheijns linked-up with Worst, but working with another rider was difficult on the course in Surhuisterveen. While there were long paved sections and fast dry grass sections, the heavy mud parts of the course sucked all of the rider’s momentum away.
2016 World Champion Thalita de Jong (Experza-Footlogix) had a slow start on Saturday, but by the second lap, she was closing the gap to the two chasers. She was 10-seconds down on Worst and Kaptheijns entering the third lap and three laps still remained in the race.
De Jong briefly lost fourth place to Geerte Hoeke (Team Breepark) on the third lap, as she struggled in the deep mud. Though the mud was deep, the riders still had to weigh the cost and benefit of either riding or running. Furthermore, riders were seen entering the pits at least once per lap to get a clean machine.
Worst stated losing contact with Kaptheijns on the third lap but was able to keep the Crelan-Charles rider within striking distance. That is until she dropped her chain. Worst was forced to dismount to get her bike working smoothly again and lost all hope of competing with Katheijns for second on the day.
Worst was able to keep Hoeke and de Jong at bay over the final laps to secure the bronze medal. De Jong passed Hoeke on the penultimate lap to move back into fourth.
Brand entered the pit for the final time on the last lap to get a clean bike and pumped her fist as she got the bike from her mechanic. She cruised through the final half lap to capture her first elite Dutch national cyclocross championship. She finished second at the national championships last year to Vos.
Brand is now a multi-discipline Dutch national champion. She has twice been the national champion on the road, in 2013 and 2015.
Kaptheijns rolled in for second and Worst finished third. While it looked like de Jong might be able to pressure Worst for the final podium, she was never able to get close enough on the last lap and had to settle for fourth on the day.
Full results to come