By Jason Sumner
Dutchwoman Marianne Vos thrilled the home-country crowd Sunday, winning the final round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup in Hoogerheide, Holland. In fact, the Dutch swept the podium, with Saane Van Paassen and World Cup series leader —now 2010 champion — Daphny Van den Brand completing the top three.
“I felt good in the first few laps and was able to get a gap with the other two Dutch girls, which was awesome,” said Vos, the reigning world cyclocross champion. “Then near the end I just attacked alone and got a gap by myself and held it to the finish.”
Van den Brand did just enough to hold onto the World Cup title, finishing five points ahead of Vos. If Van den Brand had slipped to fourth, the pair would have finished tied.
Van Paassen’s second place on Sunday moved her to third overall, while former series leader Katie Compton (Planet Bike) dropped to fourth after missing her second consecutive World Cup race. The reigning U.S. national champion is still ailing from a debilitating bout of leg cramps that first cropped up after she crashed during last Saturday’s Roubaix course preview session.
Compton was spotted in the large crowd watching the race on the venue’s jumbo TV screen. She remains hopeful that she can race next weekend at the world championships in Tabor, Czech Republic.
“I’m definitely feeling better,” Compton said. “The plane tickets are already bought, so I’ll definitely make the trip to Tabor and see how things go. Right now I’m hopeful things will get better.”
Last week’s Roubaix World Cup winner Katerina Nash (Luna) overcame a first-lap crash, fighting from far back all the way up to fourth.
“There was a bunch of people around me and the rider in front of me hopped into my line,” Nash said. “I was too close to her and ended up in the fence. But I was going good the rest of the way. I just needed a few more laps to catch all the way back.”
A native of the Czech Republic who lives in California, Nash is looking forward to racing on home turf.
“It’ll be exciting to race at home and I feel like the form is there right now,” she said.
American Amy Dombroski (Luna) also had a sterling ride, moving as high as fourth before slotting into ninth at the finish. Tibco’s Meredith Miller made it two Americans in the top 20, placing 20th.
Dombroski’s effort was among the best European performances of her career, five places better than her 14th in Roubaix last Sunday.
“My head was really in it today,” she said when asked what made the difference. “The last couple races I wasn’t quite there yet. I also had a much better start.”
As for a takeaway for next Sunday’s world championships, Dombroski said it’s all about confidence.
“When you first come over here it’s like a whole new sport,” she said. “You don’t know how you stack up, so you feel like you are going hard but you don’t know how much more you can push yourself. When I got up to fourth today, I was like, okay, I can be up here. Confidence and having a good mentality is more than half of what it takes to do well over here.”
The 3km Hoogerheide course was slick as snot, with a day’s worth of rain making cornering treacherous and traction inconsistent. But several sustained high-speed sections, including a long run of pavement, quickly stretched out the women’s race. Only four riders finished within a minute of Vos.
The initial selection of three came early on, and it was soon clear the rest of the 47-rider field were riding for fourth place. Nash took that honor, while Vos took top honors with a late-race charge of her own.
“It gives me good confidence for next week,” said Vos about the prospects of a worlds repeat. “But every race is different, so we just have to see what happens.”
• Click here for Jason Sumner’s photo gallery from the women’s race.