After the Dutch favorites in the Elite Women’s race got one-upped by Sanne Cant on Saturday, the U23 Women’s Dutch contingent left nothing to chance in Sunday’s bunched-up U23 race.
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When a group of 10 women crossed the line together at the bell, the U23 race appeared to be up for grabs for any of the six countries represented in the lead selection. However, the Dutch stars in the group were determined to bring home a Dutch title from the race.
First, Fleur Nagengast (The Netherlands) took up the lead position after bridging a big gap along with Clara Honsinger (United States) and Katie Clouse (United States). When Italian Silvia Persico (Italy) jumped to the lead spot at the down-up-down section, Inge van der Heijden (The Netherlands) quickly retook the lead and led into the tricky off-camber section.
For much of the race, arguable race favorite Ceylin del Carmen Alvardo (The Netherlands) had calmly bided her time, letting her teammates trade turns at the front.
Right after the final off-camber, Alvarado sprung to life. She took the lead from Van der Heijden and then sprinted up the last run-up to get a small gap on the other riders. Looking back and seeing Van der Heijden charging hard to grab her wheel, Alvarado powered forward along the seawall.
As the meters of course remaining ticked down, Van der Heijden’s road experience kicked in.
She grabbed Alvardo’s wheel and then powered past her over the final flyover on the Bogense course. Now with a few bike lengths, she turned it into a convincing sprint win to take home the U23 World Championship.
Group Racing Early
Although Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado podiumed in the Elites several times this season and finished seventh in the World Cup overall, the U23 field has a ton of talent and many fans were expecting a tight race on the hard, fast Bogense course. The best young women cyclocrossers in the world did not disappoint.
After Van der Heijden took the holeshot, she continued to lead the way down the long straight along the sea as a large group of riders massed up behind her. As the riders made their way through the technical features along the embankment, small groups of riders broke off the front two times, but at the end of the first lap, upwards of 12 riders crossed through the start/finish straight together. Included in the mix was Katie Clouse of the U.S. contingent.
As the large group of riders made its way along the windy straights, the riders massed up four and five across heading toward the first climb at the far side of the course. Out of the down-up-down section, Alvarado, Van der Heijden and Anna Kay (Great Britain) broke off with a small lead. The rest of the group closed it, but they again got a small gap on the others at the end of the second of six laps.
At the beginning of the third lap, the lead group dropped down to eight riders—Alvarado, Van der Heijden, Kay, Clouse, Puck Pieterse (The Netherlands), Marion Norbert Riberolle (France), Persico and Nicole Koller (Switzerland). Behind them, a group led by Honsinger and Nagengast chased a decent gap.
In the third lap, Alvarado, Van der Heijden and Kay again got a small gap on the other riders through the start/finish straight. Four others were just two seconds back and quickly re-joined the leaders, but midway through the race, those three riders were the ones consistently at the front.
Clouse dropped off the pace of the leaders and joined Honsinger and Nagengast as the chase about 15 seconds back.
In the early stages of Lap 4, a new rider in Riberolle stepped up as the new aggressor. She powered to the front along the long straight to the far side of the course and led the group of seven up the first steep climb. Her move again broke a small group of four off the front, but at the end of the lap, the seven leaders were back together.
With the lead group jockeying for position, Honsinger, Clouse and Nagengast sat just seven seconds back with two to go. Their chase back was on the verge of making the lead group 10.
A Catch and an Exciting Finish
After their respective slow starts, Honsinger and Nagengast, along with their chase mate Clouse, put in a big effort to re-join the leader selection. On the straights early in the penultimate lap they completed their bridge to make the lead group 10.
After Kay slipped out on one of the slick corners in between the two long straight sections, the young Italian Persico took her first turn at the front leading up the climb to the first technical section. After her aggression, Nagengast asserted herself in the lead group by taking over the lead spot at Pit 2 and leading through the off-camber section.
As the riders passed down the start/finish straight along the pier, the lead group was still 10 with 1 to go. It was still anyone’s guess who would rise to the top of the massive group.
In the first third of the last lap, Nagengast showed few effects of her comeback from a slow start, leading the train of riders to the far side of the course. Just as she did the previous lap, Persico again powered to the front for the first climb, but the Dutch again denied her the front spot.
As the riders exited the barriers, Nagengast, Van der Heijden and Alvardo led the way with two others holding on to their blistering pace toward the off-camber. This lap, Van der Heijden led into the off-camber looking to deny the others the lead spot into the last descents and run-ups.
Biding her time as the others jockeyed for position, Alvarado had the last decent, run-up and descent picked as her spot to go. She moved into the lead and sprinted up the last run-up to a small gap on the other riders.
At the bottom, she did a brief check to assess the damage. Only Van der Heijden was chasing. The two accelerated along the seawall and the road standout Van der Heijden grabbed onto Alvarado’s wheel.
“I knew I was the fastest in the off-camber and the last part running. When I made my move I saw I had a gap, I tried to finish the race as hard as I could,” Alvarado said.
At the last flyover before the finishing straight, Van der Heijden powered past Alvarado to take the lead. Her move gave her several meters on the race favorite. It was all she needed on the long finishing straight.
The young Dutchwoman with two more years of U23 eligibility captured the country’s second U23 World Championship in the four years the race has been held.
After the race, Van der Heijden said (translated) that she felt she had a good chance with the long sprint to the finish and based on how she rode against Alvarado at the Dutch National Championships.
Nagengast recovered after Alvarado and Van der Heijden’s big move and popped Alvarado on the finishing straight to take second. Alvarado rounded out the all-Dutch podium in third.
“I had a really bad start. In the middle of the race I was 30 seconds behind first place, so I was really happy I came back,” Nagengast said. “Then in the last lap it was a fight to the last off-camber. Inge had a strong finish when she passed Ceylin, and I couldn’t follow her. I am happy with my second.”
Clouse out-sprinted Koller by an inch to take 7th, and Honsinger finished 10th.
Ruby West (Canada) finished 20th, Madigan Munro (United States) 25th, Madeleine Vallieres Mill (Canada) 28th, Emma Swartz (United States) 31st, Sidney McGill (Canada) 41st, Dana Gilligan (Canada) 44th and Kelly Lawson (Canada) 46th.
For more reports, interviews, photos and bike profiles from Bogense, see our 2019 Bogense World Championships page.
2019 UCI Cyclocross World Championships Results, Bogense Denmark: U23 Women
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Age||Result|
|1||8||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||20||0:42:09|
|3||6||ALVARADO||Ceylin del Carmen||NED||21||0:42:17|