Annemarie Worst, U23 CX World Champion!
The U23 women put on a show at Saturday’s World Championship Cyclocross race in Bieles. Complete with ice, mud, crashes and multiple lead changes, the battle for the rainbow jersey ultimately ended with Annemarie Worst of the Netherlands winning the world title.
Worst, who rides for Dutch team Mijn Bad Liv-Giant, came to Luxembourg as a favorite after two top-five performances at the last World Cup races of the season. Other favorites included defending world champion Evie Richards (Great Britain) and U23 UCI World Cup winner Ellen Noble (USA), all three are also mountain bikers.
Out of the gate, Worst flew to the front of the pack and opened up an early lead. However, a fall on one of the course’s many difficult off-camber switchbacks allowed the chasing group to catch up to Worst and overtake her for the first half of the race. She settled in and kept her composure to safely ride to the final two laps, which left only her and Noble in the lead.
The last laps saw six lead changes between Worst and Noble, but it was the final pass by Worst on a technical steep descent that sealed the deal for the Dutchwoman. Worst made a decisive move to take a tricky inside line, enough to open up a gap that Noble was unable to close in the remaining minutes of the race.
“It was so difficult, the course, so slippery. You had to stay so focused. On the first lap, I was trying to ride away from the girls but that didn’t happen. I tried again, and again and on the last lap I could finally ride away from the other girls,” Worst said in an interview after the race.
2016 was the inaugural year for the Women’s U23 category in cyclocross, a distinction that proponents of women’s cycling have been advocating for years. The young women’s category gives rising stars in the sport the chance to compete separate from elite women, citing increased participation and a better atmosphere to cultivate talent.
Following the Women’s U23 race, the Elite Women took to the course. Also an exciting race that saw multiple lead changes, crashes and mechanicals, it ended with two sprints for podium spots: one for gold and another for bronze. The result was losses for the two Dutch riders, Marianne Vos in second and Lucinda Brand of Team Sunweb in fourth. The overall win went to Sanne Cant of Belgium, who has been on the podium multiple times at Worlds but never on the top step. Bronze was taken by Katerina Nash (Czech Republic).
Monday, January 30, 2017