Lucinda Brand wins again, vaulting to the top of the Superprestige standings

Lucinda Brand extends her win streak to four on a brutal course

Lucinda Brand described the course in Boom as two halves — the first half flat with a bit of sand, the second rife with climbs, tricky descents and “annoying” corners.

“They were a little slippery, so easy to make little mistakes,” Brand said. “And because it was so much climbing, you really had to search where to recover.”

Once again, Brand fought head-to-head with defending World Champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, and once again Brand came out victorious, just as she has in five of their last six races against each other. The conditions and course made for a brutally difficult day, and the two were by themselves in front for most of the race, swapping the lead.

Lucinda Brand hammering the pedals on a mucky day in Boom.

Early, it appeared that Alvarado might ride away from Brand, who had to put a foot down and stop her momentum at the bottom of a descent on the second lap. Alvarado took advantage and created a gap, then expanded it when Brand struggled through the sand.

Alavardo pushed the lead to at least eight seconds, but Brand clawed back on the third lap, making up ground by powering up the climbs. The two remained neck-and-neck until a key, and somewhat controversial, moment on Lap 5 of 6.

As the two riders entered the pits for a bike swap, Brand was on Alvarado’s wheel. As Alvarado was hopping on her new bike and beginning to pedal, Brand threw her bike into Alvarado’s path while trying to get it to her mechanics, not realizing her rival was so close. Brand got on cleanly, but waited for Alvarado to recover after realizing her mistake.

Alvarado struggled to keep Brand’s wheel from then on, especially when gradients rose.

“From the start it was hard,” Brand said. “It was hard to get away from Ceylin because she is technically such a great rider, but in the final I managed to have a little gap and also to keep the gap in the downhills.”

Lucinda Brand standing atop her fourth straight podium.

Brand would finish the race 10 seconds ahead of Alvarado, who distanced third-place Denise Betsema by another 35 seconds. The win moved Brand to the top of the Superprestige standings with three races to go in the series. Brand and Alvarado are tied with 71 points, but Brand has now won three races to Alvarado’s two. Annemarie Worst is in third place with 63 points, and Betsema is fourth with 60.

“Of course I’m very happy to win this race,” Brand said. “And because I won this race, I am now the leader in Superprestige, which is the first time for me. So yeah, this is also really cool. Hopefully I can keep this position in the coming races.”

The next Telenet Superprestige race will take place on Dec. 13 in Gavere, followed by Heusden-Zolder on Dec. 23 and Middelkerke on Feb. 6.

Brand is maintaining an incredible run of form at the moment, but her battles with Alvarado are just beginning to heat up.

Toon Aerts battling the mud in a hard-fought men's race.

Toon Aerts gets back on the podium

After taking fourth in Merksplas, Toon Aerts got back to his podium ways with a third place finish in Boom, 21 seconds behinds winner Eli Iserbyt.

Like the women’s race, the men’s race was defined by an elite group that established itself early. Aerts was the first rider to take the front of the race, but he was eventually joined by Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout, then Wout van Aert to complete the quartet.

Those four riders remained in lock step, with Van Aert attempting to animate the race at several points only to be hauled back. Only Iserbyt was able to create a definitive gap with two laps to go. From there, the chase shattered, with Vanthourenhout (15 seconds behind Iserbyt) distancing Aerts, who distanced Van Aert (32 seconds back).

“It was a muddy and slippery course, but I could control it quite well for most of the race,” Aerts said. “In the end I made a mistake, so my opponents could get away. But the feeling I have was very good, and that’s what I need to take from Boom: The confidence that I can do better than third in the next weeks.”

Aerts now sits second overall on the Superprestige standings with 67 points, five behind Iserbyt. He won the first race of the series in Gieten on Nov. 10. With three races left, and given how tight the men’s competitions have been, expect Aerts to put up a very spirited fight over the next three races.