It’s not often that Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) is unable to clinch a victory after leading during the final lap of cyclocross race, but Sophie de Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg) flipped the script Sunday at Cyclocross Leuven with her impressive finishing kick. The 25-year-old from the Netherlands nabbed a hard-fought win on the final straightaway of a technical course that saw two different riders crash while leading the race.
Ellen Van Loy (Telent-Fidea) rode out to an early lead and had control of the race through the end of the first lap before falling victim to one of many trouble spots on a course that, while dry, included several steep ups and downs. The Belgian veteran went over the bars on a tricky curving descent midway through the second lap.
A quartet of Cant, de Boer, Sabrina Stultiens (Liv Plantur), and Femke van den Driessche (Kleur op Maat) caught back up to Van Loy and Stultiens charged into the lead, but it wouldn’t last. She held on through the second crossing of the finish line, but Stultiens saw her lead vanish after she hit the deck in a failed attempt to bunnyhop a barrier. A resurgent Van Loy took over again, and then Stultiens disappeared from the front group altogether thanks to a mechanical. Van Driessche started to fade on her own, leaving the trio of Van Loy, Cant, and de Boer to fight for the win.
In the fourth lap, Van Loy hit the deck on the very same tricky descent that had given her so much trouble in the second lap. That tightened things up at the front and allowed Cant to take the lead again briefly, though Van Loy led the trio over the finish line for the penultimate time. Then Cant kicked it into high gear and quickly put Van Loy in the rearview mirror—but she couldn’t shake De Boer. Neither rider could open up a clear advantage on the other throughout the up-and-down circuit, and the pair came into the paved finishing straight neck and neck.
De Boer opened the sprint with Cant seemingly perfectly placed right in her wheel. But Cant couldn’t quite overtake a flying de Boer, who crossed the finish line with both hands in the air.
Despite falling yet again midway through the final lap, Ellen Van Loy managed to a secure a podium spot in third.