Brand wins third straight World Cup race in brutal Dendermonde round

On Sunday, in the most taxing of conditions, Lucinda Brand stamped her authority over the 2020-2021 ‘cross World Cup by winning her third of the three rounds so far. The Dendermonde course was a quagmire of mud, and the riders slogged through four laps. Maghalie Rochette, still sporting Christmas lights on her helmet, was the top Canadian in 27th.

The weather was atrocious. It poured rain, ensuring plenty of mud. Most riders pitted every 2.52-km lap. Even the wind was strong. The race was in danger of not happening until the bridge and the gantry were removed from the course.

A rider has difficulty extracting herself from the mud.

It was a new 2.52-km course.

Brand was far ahead of Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado in the standings, having won the first two rounds.

Alvarado had trouble clipping in at the start and she was a little behind. Sanne Cant was one of the early leaders, along with Brand and Denise Betsema. Alvarado managed to recover and was soon Brand’s closest pursuer. Ruby West was 27th on Lap 1, Rochette 36th.

Cant and Betsema chase Alvarado and Brand through the muck of Lap 2.

Alvarado made the junction with Brand early in Lap 2 and then started to pull away. Cant and Betsema had Annemarie Worst for podium company, with American Clara Honsinger threatening to come over. Alvarado led Brand by 10 seconds at the end of two circuits.

On Lap 3 of four, Brand made it back to Alvarado. A misstep into one of the deepest puddles put Alvarado a little behind. Honsinger separated herself from the others in the podium pack. When Brand heard the bell, she was 9 seconds ahead of the world champion and 18 seconds in front of the American.

There was plenty of running through the mud.

Honsinger closed in on Alvarado on the bell lap.

The gaps between Brand, Alvarado and Honsinger on the bell lap.

Honsinger muscled past Alvarado to take her second World Cup runner-up spot in a row. A real surprise for Canadian bronze–fourth place–was Fem Van Empel.

All the riders finished exhausted and filthy.

The next round is in Hulst, the Netherlands, on January 3.

2020-2021 UCI World Cup Round 3, Dendermonde, Elite Women

1) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Telenet Baloise Lions) 45:27
2) Clara Honsinger (USA) +0:15
3) Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Fenix) +0:19
27) Maghalie Rochette (Canada/Specialized) +4:25
31) Ruby West (Canada/Proximum-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT) +5:30
47) Sidney McGill (Canada) +7:46

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