The fifth round of the World Cup was held in the Belgian town of Koksijde, which offers the world’s most famous sandy cyclocross track. Annemarie Worst (777) entered on a roll in the World Cups, winning the last two, but several other Dutch women were looking to continue their strong seasons as well.
Dutch national champion Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) got off to a fast start despite not starting on the first row, but it was Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Corendon-Circus) who opened up a gap after an attack going down a dune.
European champion Yara Kastelijn, however, closed the gap with teammate Annemarie Worst (777) and Inge van der Heijden (CCC) in her wheel. A five-headed Dutch leading group finished the first lap, as Brand had joined the four leaders.
Towards the end of the second lap, Alvarado once again attacked going down a dune. She entered the 3rd lap with a 4-second advantage. American national champion Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight) and World Champion Sanne Cant (IKO-Beobank) were in 6th and 7th positions with a 34 seconds arrear.
Once again it was Kastelijn who closed the gap with Alvarado, leaving van der Heijden, Brand and Worst behind, which was just temporarily, as they all rejoined at the end of the third lap. Brand lifted the pace in the fourth lap. When Alvarado made a mistake, a gap opened up. Alvarado made up for her mistake and closed the gap, bringing all five Dutch riders back together at the beginning of the last lap.
Brand, however, kept the pace high, only leaving Alvarado and Kastelijn in her wheel. When Alvarado attacked, Brand made a little error and a gap opened up.
Brand, being in a rush to close it down, crashed. The victory was gone.
Alvarado took her first Elite World Cup win in her career.
“It’s unbelievable that I can win here,” she said to Sporza after the race. “This cross was one of my goals of the season. Brand was very strong and I knew I would have to beat her. I was very tired at the end, to be honest. I heard from my team leaders that I had to start the last sand lane as first, but often that didn’t work out because Brand rode so hard. Only in the last lap, she was riding a little less fast and then I succeeded. That’s what made the difference.”
Second place went to Brand, and Kastelijn completed the podium. Van der Heijden finished fourth and Worst fifth.
Czech rider Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) finished 14th but kept her lead in the World Cup standings.
Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight) finished 11th, Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) 19th, Caroline Mani (Pactimo / Colorado Proud) 21st, Corey Coogan Cisek (CCC Racing) 42nd, Shannon Mallory (NW Women’s Cyclocross Project) 45th, Katja Freeburn 52nd, Bridget Tooley (Easton / Giant p/b Transitions LifeCare) 54th, Kaia Schmid (New England Devo p/b Cadence Wealth Management) 55th, Rebecca Gross (Zero D Racing) 56th and Abi Yates (Matrix / RBM) 59th.
Full results are below.