Marianne Vos makes it look easy again in Hoogerheide World Cup
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Marianne Vos makes it look easy again in Hoogerheide World Cup

by Ben Atkins at 8:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
World champion lays down the law again a week before her title defence; World Cup overall for van den Brand

marianne vosMarianne Vos (Rabobank) made it look all too easy again, as she took her fifteenth straight victory of the season at the cyclocross World Cup in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. The World champion took the lead in the second half of the first lap, then rode solo to take yet another emphatic victory, almost a minute and a half clear of compatriot Daphny van den Brand (AA Drink-Leontien.nl), who has been her main challenger this winter.

Katerina Nash (Luna) took third place, just a few seconds behind van den Brand, after finally being shaken by the Dutchwoman during the last lap. Having ridden with the first group of chasers, but suffered a number of problems with traction in the drier wooded parts of the muddy course, US champion Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant) took fourth, a few seconds clear of French champion Lucie Chainel-Lefevere (France).

Second place was enough to earn van den Brand the overall World Cup title at the end of her final season in the sport.

The fast race across a mostly flat, but sticky course, was marred by a massive crash in the starting straight that saw Sophie de Boer (Telenet-Fidea) and former French champion Caroline Mani (France) leave the course in an ambulance.

Reactions to follow

A fast start but a massive crash sees the end of the race for some big names

Vos got away the fastest, but suddenly a rider in the middle of the pack cam down, taking out de Boper and half the pack came down behind her. Most riders were quickly up and racing, but de Boer and Mani did not get up; the Frenchwoman was holding her arm as if to indicate a possible collarbone fracture.

Van den Brand took over the lead as the race headed onto the grassy infield for the first time, with Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) taking over as the leaders hit the mud. The two of them pulled a group clear, which included Vos, Nash, Helen Wyman (Kona), and Chainel-Lefevere.

Sanne Cant (Boxx) and Compton were struggling to get across around the flat, but sticky, middle section of the lap.

As they neared the end of the first lap, passing through the wooded area, an acceleration from Chainel-Lefevere was countered by one from Vos, and suddenly the World champion was several lengths clear. The Dutchwoman crossed the line for end of the first lap a few seconds clear of the rest of the group; having to avoid the treatment of the two fallen riders as she did so.

One lap down and Vos is away

The chase group was quickly reduced to van den Brand, Nash, Compton and Chainel-Lefevere, with Wyman and Harris just behind. As they entered the woods though, a technical problem for van den Brand saw her briefly stop, delaying Chainel-Lefevere in the process; Nash was pressing the pace up front, but she was passed by Compton as the Czech had a problem with her pit stop.

At the end of lap two Vos was 30 seconds ahead of Compton and Nash – as an ambulance blocked half the finishing straight, picking up the injured riders – with van den Brand and Chainel Lefevere at 47 seconds.

Compton and Nash were chasing determinedly, but the US champion suddenly slid off on a corner in the woods, halting both of them in their tracks. They were up quickly, but Vos’ lead was growing, and the incident allowed van den Brand to catch them up.

The fall seemed to have caused a technical problem for Compton and first Nash, then van den Brand, rode away from her. The US champion changed her bike at the first opportunity and was in hot pursuit again, but the other two were several seconds clear by now and the gap proved difficult to close.

No catching the World champion as her challengers struggle

Across the line with two laps to go – with the ambulance still in position – Vos’ lead was up to 55 seconds over the first two chasers, and 1’02” over Compton. The rest were beginning to bunch up behind, with Wyman and Harris gaining on Chainel-Lefevere, and Cant now not far behind.

All three chasers suffered problems on various corners during the course of the lap, allowing Vos to further extend her lead; Compton seemed to be suffering more than the others and lost ground on Nash and van den Brand once more.

At the bell the World champion was 1’19” ahead of the first two, with Compton a few seconds further back. Cheered on by her home crowd, the Dutch woman cruised around the final lap; able to take her time around the course’s more difficult and technical parts, where her pursuers could not.

Van den Brand began to turn the screw as she entered the woods for the final time in an effort to drop Nash, and managed to put a few metres between herself and the former Czech champion.

Vos punched the air as she crossed the finish line, to the applause of her local crowd, and was followed almost a minute and a half later by van den Brand to complete the familiar Netherlands 1-2 that has been seen so many times this season. Nash took a hard-fought third place, to complete the podium, a few seconds later, with Compton taking fourth almost two minutes back.

Another World Cup for van den Brand; another World title on the way for Vos?

Vos was the only one capable of knocking van den Brand off the top of the overall standings; even a with Vos victory though it would have needed a disaster for van den Brand – and her finishing outside the top 17 – for the World champion to take the competition away from her compatriot.

Despite just one victory to Vos’ four, the late start to the World champion’s season means that van den Brand takes a fourth World Cup title to cap her long, successful career; Vos though, is still the outstanding favourite to retain her rainbow jersey in Koksijde, Belgium, in a week’s time.

Result Hoogerheide World Cup Elite Women
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank
2. Daphny van den Brand (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl
3. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Chix
4. Katie Compton (USA) Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team
5. Lucie Chainel-Lefevere (Fra) France
6. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
7. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
8. Annie Last (GBr) Great Britain
9. Sanne Cant (Bel) Boxx Veldritacademie
10. Pavla Havlikova (Cze) Telenet-Fidea

Final World Cup Standings
1. Daphny van den Brand (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl 326pts
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank 290
3. Katei Compton (USA) Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team 235
4. Lucie Chainel-Lefevere (Fra) France 231
5. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing 208

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