In a classic head-to-head battle that ensued from the start, Marianne Vos outsprinted defending champion Lucinda Brand to win her record 8th Cyclo-Cross world title Saturday at the Walmart 2022 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships at Centennial Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.A.
Vos, who won her last world championship in cyclo-cross in 2014 battled countrywoman Brand throughout the race only to outsprint her in the final meters of the seven-lap race over the 1.8-mile (3 kilometer) course. She finished with a time of exactly 55 minutes, one second ahead of Brand.
“We know each other so well and it’s really, really difficult because I know what she’s probably going to do and she knows what I’m probably going to do…so that makes it really, really difficult to beat each other,” said Vos. “I think it makes it very interesting watching the race (as a spectator) but is nerve-racking race ourselves. In the last lap, I knew it was going to be hard to get away so I just tried to stay calm and tried to not make any mistakes. I tried to stay focused and be ready for the final sprint.”
“I think we both knew the best position for sprinting was in second place because it was a long sprint,” said Brand. “Especially for me being this kind of slow person compared to Marianne. I wanted to try and get her in front. Of course, she knew that I was going to try that. At least it’s good for history maybe.”
The final 200 meters are on asphalt, as customary for the sport, which led to a fast sprint coming off “Stonehenge”, a serpentine 300 meters of grassy-banked knoll.
The battle for third place yielded perhaps a surprise podium by Silvia Persico, outdistancing The Netherlands’ Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Yara Kastelijn and Manon Bakker. Maghalie Rochette came home shortly after to finish in 7th place as the top North American. The top U.S. finisher was Clara Honsinger of Portland, Ore., who finished in 11th place.
“I am a little disappointed in my finish, but yeah…not much else to say beyond that” said Honsinger immediately after the race. Honsinger had placed 3rd in the World Cup in Fayetteville this past October in the mud. “But, I am really proud and happy to see the cyclo-cross community come out. They were truly amazing. It’s been great to race in a World Championship on American soil.”
More than 7,000 spectators jammed the course with chants of “USA…USA” echoing throughout Centennial Park, a newly-developed plot of land span on top of a hill on the outskirts of Fayetteville. The Women’s Elite race featured 30 elite riders from 11 countries. The field was more condensed with several athletes not traveling due to COVID.
The sounds of clanging cow bells and the blowing of an assortment of horns added to the party atmosphere felt during the race, which capped off one of the three days of racing that included the Men’s Under-23 and Women’s Junior races.
“It was a great atmosphere today,” said Vos, who is also a gold medalist at the London Olympic Games on the road and at the Beijing Olympic Games on the track. “Racing in front of these crowds is pretty cool, to have these people cheering all along the line. We’ve had some racing in Europe with no crowds, so this was a great feeling.”
As for her record 8th cyclo-cross title she said it hadn’t entered her mind. “I was only thinking of the win, and really only in the final meters,” she said.
Race Results (Top 5)
- Marianne Vos (The Netherlands), 55 minutes
- Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands), +:1 sec.
- Silvia Persico (Italy), +:51 sec.
- Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (The Netherlands), +1 min. 4 sec.
- Yara Kastellin (The Netherlands), +1:05