On a course that many racers claimed was the toughest they have ever ridden, Lucinda Brand of Team Sunweb rode to an impressive comeback, finishing on the podium with a bronze medal at Cyclocross World Championships.
The race, held in Valkenburg-Limburg, the Netherlands – Brand’s home country – was perched on top of the famous Cauberg road climb and featured many technical climbs and descents. Though the course lacked any barriers, the deep, rutted mud, off-camber straightaways, stairs and run-ups made for one of the most difficult World Championship races in history. With a mountain bike specialist winning the Women’s U23 category, from the start it looked like the same might hold true for the Elite category.
However, after slide-outs and crashes in the first lap, two riders went clear to the front where they battled for the remainder of the race. Brand fought for position in the third group and eventually powered her way to forward to catch the third place rider. In the final lap, Brand attacked and rode strong and smooth all the way to the finish to secure her first CX World Championship podium.
“I’m really happy with the medal especially after being sick last week,” said Brand. “It was a really tough fight to take 3rd but I was so glad to be standing on the podium. It’s a great feeling to stand on a world champion podium anyway, but in your own country is even more special.”
Brand wrapped the cyclocross season with several impressive finishes in addition to her bronze at World Champs, including second at European Championships, wins at Zilvermeercross and Waaslandcross, and the Dutch National Championship title.
After a brief break, Brand will dive back into road racing with the UCI Women’s WorldTour in March.