Kata Blanka Vas clinches decisive World Cup victory in Overijse


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The new generation of elite women’s cyclocross continues to progress, as Kata Blanka Vas (SD-Worx) claimed a convincing victory at the UCI World Cup in Overijse, Belgium.

Vas missed last week’s race in Zonhoven to recover from his trip to the United States, and it turned out to be a wise move. Vas won 15 seconds over U23 World Cup leader Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix) after a series of errors that saw first leader Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) come out of the race.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Vas said. “But I felt so good I just tried to go in front, my legs were very good. I was able to concentrate on the whole race and everything went well. It means a lot to win my first World Cup.

The course of this classic race is always tough, cutting back and forth through open farmland, then through nearby woodland.

With several steep climbs on each turn, the course generally favors climbers, but the descents are quick and slippery, and the specs can trip the unwary. Heavy rains in recent days have made the ground soft; there was a lot of very wet mud.

60 riders lined up for the start in the center of Overijse. With a long uphill sprint on the Loensdelleweg, many riders opted to ride with high pressure, slick tire treads and then changed bikes in the pits at the top of the hill. However, that strategy fell apart when a large group of riders got tangled up in the pits, initiating a chaotic first lap that saw Betsema, who did not change bikes, break free.

Behind the World Cup leader, Vas and Pieterse continued. Behind them, a large group including Lucinda Brand (Trek Baloise Lions), Shirin Van Anrooij (Trek Baloise Lions), Inge Van Der Heijden (777) and Hélène Clauzel (AS Crossteam) tried to get along but struggled with the difficult conditions. .

In the second lap, Betsema slipped down a dangerously muddy descent and Blanka Vas and Pieterse joined her at the front of the race. A lap later, Betsema crashed again, this time more heavily, losing 15 seconds, and she never won back the two young drivers in front of her. As Brand struggled desperately to get back to Betsema, Vas pressured Pieterse.

The Hungarian rider’s endurance showed itself on the long strenuous climbs to the top of the course and she was calm enough to dive down the descents to a famous victory.

Brand edged Betsema for third place and some valuable points for the World Cup.

Honsinger returned to European races with a solid fifth place finish. (Photo: Luc Claessen / Getty Images)

American champion Clara Honsinger (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld) showed again that she loves difficult courses, with an excellent fifth place.

Besides being a groundbreaking performance by Vas, a host of exciting young French riders demonstrated their abilities. 18-year-old French Junior Champion Line Burquier (AS Crossteam) finished 6th, Senior French Champion Amandine Fouquenet (Arkea) took 9th and Hélène Clauzel (AS Crossteam) took 13th.

Tomorrow the riders will line up for another classic, the X20 Trofee Koppenbergcross.

Organized every year on November 1, a public holiday in Belgium, the women’s race has been renamed GP Jolien Verschueren to commemorate the famous Belgian runner who died in July of brain cancer. Verschueren, who combined racing with a teaching career, won the Koppenbergcross in 2015 and 2016.

1 Blanka Vas (SD-Worx): 48.07
2 Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix): +0.15
3 Lucinda Mark (Trek Baloise Lions): +0.33
4 Denise Betsema (Pauwels SauzenBingoal): +0.33
5 Clara Honsinger (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld): +0.44


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