Our moments of cycling escapism have taken a muddy turn, with the cyclocross season shifting into full gear as we move from the opening blows of the C1 races of the Telenet Superprestige series, Koppenbergcross and GP Leuven to the red hot competition of the World Cups.
The duelling between the Dutch trio of Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Annemarie Worst and Lucinda Brand has already been re-ignited and the rising stakes will undoubtedly fan the flames.
We’ll take a look at how to follow the first Cyclocross World Cup of 2020 shortly, but first let’s wind the clock back to the end of the road season.
LOOKING BACK TO THE END OF THE ROAD
The start of November marked the final Women’s WorldTour race of the year, with the three stage Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta. There were definitely some doubts surrounding whether or not it would in fact go ahead and how many teams would show if it did, but as the route was announced days before the race and a solid, but certainly not full, contingent of the top teams announced their line-ups it became clear that we would indeed have a Spanish season finale.
The mildly hilly first stage on Friday November 6 was won with the powerful sprint of Lorena Wiebes (Team Sunweb) and defending champion Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT) was well positioned in third. At Saturday’s 9.3 kilometre individual time trial Brennauer bought home the stage win and shifted into the overall lead.
On stage 3 Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) tried to make up her ten second deficit on the overall with a solo break in the 17 lap decider on the Madrid Circuit. Though, Brennauer’s team weren’t going to let that stand and the race was pulled back together. Elisa Balsamo (Valcar – Travel & Service) took the stage win, while Brennauer snapped up the overall for a second year.
Lizzie Deignan (Trek Segafredo) secured the Women’s WorldTour win for 2020. Liane Lippert (Team Sunweb) held onto the best young rider’s jersey which she donned back at the start of the season in Australia while joyfully stepping onto the top step of her very first Women’s WorldTour podium.
WHAT’S ON CYCLOCROSS: THE TABOR OPENING ACT
World Cup Schedule
|29 Nov 2020||2020-2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, Tabor||CZE||Tabor||CDM|
|20 Dec 2020||2020-2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, Namur||BEL||Namur||CDM|
|27 Dec 2020||2020-2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, Dendermonde||BEL||Dendermonde||CDM|
|03 Jan 2021||2020-2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, Hulst||NED||Hulst||CDM|
|24 Jan 2021||2020-2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, Overijse||BEL||Overijse||CDM|
The cyclocross season, just like everything else this year, has had to undergo a few adjustments. Starting at the end of November, rather than September, and eschewing the recent globalisation of the sport with just five rounds in Europe, three of those in Belgium. There are no crowds and no beer and no frites being consumed on the sidelines … an almost inconceivable concept.
Though, there is one thing that has stayed just the same, and that’s the fierce on course rivalry between Annemarie Worst (777), World Champion Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix) and Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise Lions). Just like last year they have been dominating the podiums at the run-in races.
Alvarado came into the season in good form, having taken victory in the U23 category at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Nové Město and the bronze medal in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Leogang. The 22 year old then added another sought after jersey to her wardrobe, winning the European Cyclocross Championships which finished with a sprint to the line with Annemarie Worst, just like Worlds last season.
The rider in the rainbow stripes at this stage looks like the one to beat, having won three of the five C1 categorised races she’s done this season. Though the riders who have won those other races, Annemarie Worst and Lucinda Brand, never seem to be far behind.
Worst hit the start of the season firing and Brand has continued building. Illness, injury and race cancellations played havoc with Brand’s road season with Trek-Segafredo, where she missed out on being part of a talent stacked team at a race where she has done well in the past, the Giro Rosa. However, she now seems to be well beyond that and determined to make the most of the racing to come.
In addition to the podium regulars of Alvarado, Worst and Brand, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal) has often been finishing near the front so don’t be surprised if you see her pop up to challenge for a World Cross podium at the season opener at Tabor. Katie Compton, a 15 time US champion, will also be on the start line after flying to Europe to start her season last weekend.
How to Watch Tabor
The UCI have put out this handy guide.
One notable absence from it though is Australia and while GCN Racing has been a good option for coverage of the cyclocross so far, this race isn’t listed on their Australian schedule so it looks like the UCI Youtube and Facebook channel will be the go to options. If you are turning to Twitter you can look to @UCI_CX and #CXWorldCup
MEDIA ROUND UP
We’ve been highlighting the growing numbers of race previews in the last couple of editions of the What’s On, so let’s this month turn our attention to a few of the fabulous features that have come out recently.
Giro Rosa: fading glory, Procycling, from freelancer Owen Rogers who was on the ground as the race unfolded.
The Marianne Vos effect: 2012 Olympics-Worlds and the elevation of women’s cycling, from Cyclingnews Women’s Editor Kirsten Frattini.
Teniel Campbell flying flag for Trinidad and Tobago in Women’s WorldTour, Cyclingnews, another one from the prolific Kirsten Frattini.
Her Race was cancelled at the last minute, so she rode 1,000 km home, CyclingTips, by freelance writer Amy Jones.
The new triple-threat: World champion Ceylin Alvarado wants to win it all, CyclingTips, by José Been who has been delivering a regular flow of profile pieces.
SweetSpot’s cycling revolution part two: The rise of women’s racing, SportsPro, by Ed Dixon.
We’ll be back with more on the Cyclocross World Cup rounds later. To keep up to date with all the action in the meantime follow The Women’s Race on Twitter.