Lucinda Brand dueled defending World Champ Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, setting up matchup in Oostende
This season’s cyclocross racing is reaching a fevered pitch. Just one week out from the World Championships, Saturday’s X2O Badkamers Trofee race in Hamme and Sunday’s World Cup race in Overijse featured hungry men’s and women’s fields hoping to give themselves a confidence boost before the biggest race of the year.
Baloise Trek’s Lucinda Brand had arguably her most difficult weekend of the season. In Hamme, she fell off the podium in a cyclocross race for the first time since December 2019, when she was forced to abandon a race Loenhout. On Saturday, she fell on the second lap of a sloppy course and was unable to power herself to the front, ultimately finishing 44 seconds behind winner Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado to take fourth.
Brand bounced back onto the podium Sunday, finishing in second place in Overijse by 20 seconds behind Alvarado. The two Dutch riders separated themselves from all chasers and went into the final lap in a dead heat. And though Brand was able to assert her strength on the course’s uphill sections, Alvarado’s technical prowess on the descents ultimately proved decisive.
The results will keep Brand on her toes as she prepares to do battle with Alvarado again in Oostende. More importantly, Sunday’s result officially made her the winner of the UCI World Cup.
“It was a good weekend. Not super, but good,” Brand said Sunday. “We expected a tougher weekend with everybody getting in form for the most important race of the year. So in general, I’m satisfied with this weekend. Maybe not the wins that you expect from me, but it can’t be always a party. A podium is super good. And of course, now it’s really in the book that I have the World Cup jersey.”
The World Cup victory is the first of what could be several major accomplishments this season. Brand has won 11 of 23 races this season, and is on pace to win the Superprestige and X2O Badkamers Trofee series in addition to the World Cup.
Nothing would be as sweet as winning a rainbow jersey in Oostende, however. The course, which is situated on the coast near the Strait of Dover, includes a sandy section that could be affected by the tide. Even more so than the elements, Brand will be hoping to overcome Alvarado, who is the defending World Champion and has eight wins in 21 races this season.
Brand and Alvarado have dueled throughout the season, each beating the other four times in their last eight races together. Saturday’s course will challenge both riders equally, creating the conditions for what should be a thrilling race.
Evie Richards and Trek Factory Racing CX back in action
Covid-19 restrictions have hampered the Trek Factory Racing CX team’s plans this season, but Evie Richards, Hattie Harnden and Maddie Munro were back in action Sunday, racing all together in Overijse for the first time since Dec. 20.
Richards had an excellent re-debut, finishing eighth overall and 58 seconds out of first place more than 30 days since her last race. She was happy to be back in the saddle.
Harnden and Munro finished 25th and 27th, respectively. More importantly, they got reacquainted with the rhythms of cyclocross racing ahead of their trips to Oostende, where they’ll compete in the Under-23 category.
Harnden finished 11th as a U23 rider at the World Championships in Dübendorf last year, while Munro finished third as a U19 rider. They will race Sunday, one day after Richards and the elite women.