A thrilling win on a brutal course in Niel
Lucinda Brand powered away from Annemarie Worst on the last lap of Thursday’s Jaarmarktcross race in Niel to take her fourth win of the season, and rise to second place on the Superprestige series standings. Brand has now won back-to-back races after taking the European crown over the weekend.
Brand had to fight back from a bad first lap on a difficult course. The course in Niel was different from previous editions of the race, notably forcing riders through a tricky section of off-camber mounds. Brand struggled to get her bearings early, but found her legs once the pack thinned out and powered her way to Worst, who was at the front of the race
“I didn’t have a good start at all, which is really important here,” Brand said. “It pushed me into chasing mode for a long time, which was not easy, especially on the first lap because it was a course where there was mostly just one line that you could take. That meant that you had to stay behind riders if you didn’t plan well.”
Brand’s engine was fortunately in top form, and she was able to pick her way back up to the lead riders, slowly but surely. She attacked in the closing laps and shook her compatriot, Worst, for good when Worst crashed on the final loop. Brand finished 18 seconds ahead of Worst, who took second, and 32 seconds ahead of Denise Betsema, who took third.
“Worst did a pit to change the bike, and I decided not to do that, and then I could overtake her,” Brand said. “Worst was giving it her all until the finish line, so it’s very nice to take this victory on a difficult, technical course.”
Brand is now one point behind Betsema for the series lead, with five more races still to go. The next Superprestige tussle will take place on Nov. 20 in Merksplas.
Before that, Brand will work towards stretching her World Cup series lead this Sunday in Tabor. She currently sits tied with Betsema in that competition.
After a month of subdued (by her standards) results, Brand appears to be finding her peak form again. Brand won both the Superprestige and World Cup series last season, along with a World Championship. Her competitors will need to summon their best efforts if they hope to dethrone the Baloise Trek rider.
Toon Aerts, Lars van der Haar fight to the wire for second and fourth
Toon Aerts and Lars van der Haar once again fought at the front of the race in Niel. However, both riders were just edged out at the finish line. Aerts took second in a sprint against Eli Iserbyt, while Van der Haar took fourth by two seconds behind Quinten Hermans.
Thursday’s results also mirror the men’s Superprestige overall standings. Aerts is now just one point behind Iserbyt for the overall lead. Hermans is one point behind Aerts, while Van der Haar is six points behind Hermans for fourth.
All four riders are headed to Tabor. Aerts and Van der Haar are hoping to chip away at Iserbyt’s strong early lead, built on three World Cup wins in five starts. Aerts is in third place, and already has a World Cup win in Zonhoven on his season resume.