Lucinda Brand is the new cyclocross elite women’s World Champion. After two bronze medals and one silver in the last three World Championships, the 31-year-old Baloise Trek Lions rider finally got her rainbow jersey after a dominant season that included the Overall World Cup title and 12 race wins.
The course in the Belgian seaside resort Oostende was unrelenting. Two bridges, deep ruts in the sand, a horse race track muddy from the endless rain. The riders rode on the waterfront and even in the water. Add some freezing temperatures, cold rain and a storm, and it was quite the backdrop for an amazing battle for the rainbow jersey.
Defending Champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (NED) had a fast start as always but went down in one of the first turns, taking three-time World Champion Sanne Cant (BEL) with her. Denise Betsema (NED) is a specialist in the sand and immediately took a huge 15 second gap on Lucinda Brand and Annemarie Worst (NED).
The two Dutch riders worked together in a headwind and caught Betsema in the sand of lap three. Worst crashed in the sand and Brand upped the pace, dragging Betsema along over the swampy grassland of the Hippodrome. Arguably one of the strongest riders in the race, Worst, the silver medalist in 2020, fought her way back onto the wheel of Brand and Betsema.
Brand took a new bike on the fourth lap and came out of the pits a few seconds back but kept her cool. When Worst crashed again, Brand took advantage and pushed the pace.
On the final lap, Brand ploughed through the deep sand for the penultimate time and kicked again on the 21% slopes of the bridge, distancing Betsema for good. The race would be decided on the many turns on the Hippodrome. Worst was the first one to attack but Brand bridged the gap and took an inside turn. A touch of the elbows, one final crash for Worst, and Lucinda Brand was finally triumphant at the World Championships.
This means a lot, really a lot. It’s so special and I don’t realize it completely yet. For a few years I just missed out and now it’s right. I always kept believing, even after that very fast start by Denise. I knew beforehand and especially after the U23 men’s race that you should never give up on this course
With her road team Trek-Segafredo, Brand has big goals for this season, Paris-Roubaix being the first on the list.
“Yes, Roubaix is of course a big goal but I first want to enjoy this moment. I have worked so many years for this moment so I will take some time to enjoy it.”
US National Champion Clara Honsinger finished her first full European season with a superb fourth place, the best of a strong chase group. Get to know the young talent in our recent interview.
Lucinda Brand rides a Trek Boone with RED eTap AXS 1x, using a 38T chainring and a 10-33 cassette.
Report by José Been, photos by Balint Hamvas.