Denise Betsema took her first World Cup victory since November 2018 with a win at Sunday’s penultimate round of the 2020-2021 series in Hulst, the Netherlands, breaking Lucinda Brand’s streak of four consecutive World Cup triumphs. By coming runner-up, Brand secured her first World Cup title; she’s 42 points ahead of Betsema. Magahlie Rochette was top Canadian in 20th.
— Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal (@PS_BG_CT) January 3, 2021
Brand had won the first three rounds and was far ahead of last season’s winner at Hulst, world champion Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado, in the overall standings. It was Rochette’s last race in Europe before the World Championships in Ostend, Belgium on January 30.
Sanne Cant came flying out of the start in the lead. Rochette, who wasn’t on the front row, lost several places from the second row. Soon it was Betsema at the front, with last season’s World Cup champ Annemarie Worst in second spot. After the first 2.77 km lap, Brand was eight seconds back.
Betsema continued to lead on Lap 2, pulling out a gap over Alvarado and Worst, with Brand and Kata Blanka Vas the next pursuers and then Marianne Vos in her new Jumbo-Visma duds. Rochette had pulled herself up to 20th from 27th. Alvarado was seven seconds in arrears at the line.
— UCI Cyclocross (@UCI_CX) January 3, 2021
On Lap 3 of seven, Brand joined Alvarado and Worst. It was three Dutch riders chasing another Dutch rider, with Hungarian Vas in fifth position. Betsema still had a 26-second gap.
Brand left Alvarado and Worst on Lap 4 to track down Betsema.
Worst’s tumble on Lap 5 put Alvarado on a solo bid for the podium, Brand still six seconds ahead of the world champion and 26 seconds back of Betsema.
When she heard the bell, Betsema was 40 seconds clear. Alvarado, perhaps propelled by her mom’s vigorous encouragement, came a little closer to Brand.
A Brand fall on the bell lap pulled Alvarado closer, but Brand held on to second.
It was Betsema’s fourth and biggest victory of the season, an emphatic score on home soil.
The World Cup’s final round is January 24 in Overijse.
2020-2021 UCI World Cup Round 4, Hulst, Elite Women
1) Denise Betsema (The Netherlands/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 53:06
2) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Baloise Trek Lions) +1:02
3) Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Fenix) +1:09
20) Maghalie Rochette (Canada/Specialized) +4:56