Cyclo-cross World Championships took place in Bogense, Denmark over the weekend with the women’s elite race Saturday and the U23 women racing Sunday. Both races were full of drama and ended with CCC-Liv represented on the podium – bronze for Marianne Vos and gold for Inge van der Heijden.
Saturday morning greeted the elite women’s class with a fresh soaking of rain just a half hour before the race on the already damp and frozen course. At the gun, Vos shot out like a cannon to show that she meant business from the start. But in the end, the Dutch squad’s tact could not out-power Sanne Cant who went to win her third World Championships in a row and Vos rolled in third, just 15 seconds back. The finish marked Vos’ 11th appearance on a CX World Cup podium.
For the U23 women, the sun came out and allowed the course to dry some before the race got underway. However, the sun did not help with a brutal, cold headwind which played some role, particularly during the final laps. From the start, van der Heijden and the Dutch team controlled the race. With each technical section, they would pull ahead and create a gap on the rest of the top riders. But when the pace slowed slightly on the final lap, several riders bridged to the lead group which meant 10 racers had a go at the podium. On the final paved run-in to the finish, van der Heijden opened up early into a strong sprint and secured her unexpected victory.
“A world championship is always very special,” said van der Heijden. “It is even more special if you can win. Many friends and Dutch supporters came to Denmark. I often heard my name during the cross. Such a beautiful atmosphere is amazing. I think we're going to build a party tonight. I keep wearing the rainbow jersey for now!”
Several rule changes going forward in the women’s field reflect the excitement elicited by a season full of drama-filled races and a robust, fast women’s U23 field. Some of those changes include allowing national federations to add a women’s junior category to their National Championship races as soon as this year (they will also receive the same number of UCI points as their male counterparts), women’s junior events at UCI International races as soon as 2020, and by 2021 it will be mandatory to include a junior category at Nationals and UCI International races. Also occurring in 2020, all women’s CX World Cup races will last 50 minutes (the same as the men’s U23 races). As for equal payouts, that will not occur until the 2021/2022 season.