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Legend: Marianne Vos wins eighth elite women’s cyclocross title

Maghalie Rochette seventh place on Saturday

The elite women’s cyclocross World Championship was a classic fight between two Dutch compatriots, as reigning titlist Lucinda Brand and seven-time champ Marianne Vos threw down in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday. Eight years after her seventh title Vos prevailed in a sprint. Silvia Persico’s third place prevented a Dutch sweep. Canadian champion Maghalie Rochette raced to seventh place.

Rochette at the finish line in Fayetteville.

You can watch the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships at FloBikes.

The Course

The Ozark Mountains route was fast and dry, unlike October’s round of the World Cup. There was a curving 39-step staircase; a long, gradual climb that proved decisive; and short, steep ramps that caused problems in the mixed team relay.

The Canadian contingent

Rochette led the way for the elite Canadian women. Ruby West, Sidney McGill and Siobhan Kelly made up the rest of the Canuck quartet.

Very quickly on Lap 1 the Dutch, in the form of Vos, Brand and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, established a gap at the front. Rochette moved her way up to a chase group containing two other Dutch riders and Italian champion Persico. Rochette’s chase group was eight seconds behind at the end of the first circuit.

Rochette, in fifth place, is a blur on Lap 2 after the steep climb that caused so many problems in Fayetteville.

Persico made it over to the orange-clad trio on Lap 2, prompting Brand to attack. Vos was able to go with her and they led Alvarado by seven seconds going into the third of seven laps. Ruby West was 17th.

Brand and Vos bossed the race.

On Lap 3 Alvarado was still in third spot with Persico pressing her. Manon Bakker and Yara Kastalijn moved past the Canadian champion. Vos let Brand do the work.

Rochette tries to run down Manon Bakker, as Hungarian Kata Blanka Vas tries to make contact on Lap 3.

Heading into Lap 4 of 7, Rochette sifted down the string. But after putting Sanne Cant behind her, she had five Dutch riders and Persico to track down. Vos and Brand had 17 seconds on Alvarado, who was increasingly coming under pressure from Persico. Ruby West sat at 21st. Vos finally was forced to the front with a nifty move from Brand.

Rochette kept swapping spots with Inge van der Heijden for seventh. Persico grabbed Alvarado’s wheel just before Lap 5. Who would make the attack, Vos or Brand? And when?

Alvarado and Persico had a lively battle for the podium.

Going into the penultimate lap, it was clear that the gold battle was safe with Vos and Brand and the bronze battle was between Alvarado and Persico, barring disaster. Brand was back on the front. Vos hit the burners on the long climb but Brand didn’t blink. Vos tried again to no avail. Rochette was steady in seventh, with a gap to Kastelijn ahead and another to Cant behind. West was 22nd and McGill 24th.

It was time for endgame. On the bell lap Vos threw a right cross on the long climb and Brand counterpunched; so far it was a draw. With Kastelijn and Bakker coming, Alvarado tried to snap Persico but could not. Brand wanted to keep Vos behind her. Alvarado crashed and Persico was free to fly. Brand and Vos started playing cat and mouse. The sprint saw Vos come around Brand to take the famous win.

The World Championships conclude on Sunday with the Junior men, U23 women and elite men’s races.

2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships, Elite Women

1) Marianne Vos (The Netherlands) 55:00
2) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands) +0:01
3) Silvia Persico (Italy) +0:51
7) Maghalie Rochette (Canada) +1:39
23) Ruby West (Canada) +5:19
24) Sidney McGill (Canada) +5:26
29 Siobhan Kelly (Canada)