How dominant can a nation be in one discipline? The Netherlands are pushing the boundaries on day 1 of a very challenging UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, held in Dübendorf (Switzerland) on February 1st and 2nd. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado capped off Saturday with a spectacular triumph in the Women Elite race ahead of her compatriots Annemarie Worst and Lucinda Brand, thus making it three rainbow jerseys and a total of seven medals in three races for the Dutch riders.
The Oranje colours were omnipresent on the circuit designed in the Dübendorf airfield and it was most obvious during the Women Elite race, in the afternoon. Lucinda Brand, Annemarie Worst and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado were among the hot favourites after their many successes across the season. They quickly pulled away from the rest of the peloton, with their Dutch compatriot Yara Kastelijn being the only one able to follow them in the first two laps.
Kastelijn then got dropped and was overtaken by the experienced American Katie Compton, unsuccessfully chasing behind the main Dutch trio of the season. The Women Elite category was the most tightly contested in the 2019-2020 Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, only being settled on the final lap of the last round, in Hoogerheide (Netherlands), when Alvarado crashed and Worst pushed her way to the overall victory. The Dübendorf race was another close and thrilling one.
Worst and Alvarado went all out in the fifth and final lap while Brand also gave her all, trying to stay in contention. It came down to the final sprint and Alvarado overtook Worst to claim her first UCI Cyclo-cross World Champion title. Brand took the bronze medal with a deficit of 10" and Compton finished 4th (+1'00") while the Belgian Sanne Cant, who had won the last three editions, ended up 12th (+3'32") on a circuit that seen serious gaps opened up.
The emotion on the riders’ faces – Alvarado burst into tears of joy right after crossing the line; Brand tried to contain herself before being given away by the tears that also ran down her cheeks – told everything after an absolute thriller.
“I was very tired in the last lap,” Alvarado then described. “I didn't think I would win it today but the pace slowed down and it was my opportunity to make a final move with everything I had.”
Women Junior and Men Under 23: the Netherlands take it all
With a 21-year-old World Champion in the Women Elite category, the present is brilliant for the Dutch, and the future definitely looks bright too. The Oranje selection proved, right from the start of these Worlds, that the circuit freshly set in Dübendorf suits them well. The first race of the day saw Shirin van Anrooij and her compatriot Puck Pieterse (already the winner of the Women Junior European Championships this season) power to a spectacular 1-2 ahead of the Pan-American Junior Champion Madigan Munro (USA).
Riding off the front in the first lap, Van Anrooij never looked back and eventually won with a 53" gap to Pieterse. “I wanted to go all out from the start,'' Van Anrooij explained after her victory. “It was a really hard course and I knew I was strong enough to ride on my own so it was a good course for me.” She just couldn't hold back her smile as she wrote history.
With 46 participants from all around the world, this race will remain in the history of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships as the first Women Junior event. Van Anrooij and her chasers can now dream of emulating their elders.
In the Men Under 23 race, local hero Kevin Kuhn (winner of the 2019-2020 Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in this category) tried to make the most of the challenges laid on his home soil. He quickly put his rival under pressure and made the early selection along with the Frenchman Antoine Benoist, the Belgian Niels Vandeputte and the Dutchmen Ryan Kamp, Mees Hendrikx and Pim Ronhaar.
Kamp eventually surged in a similar fashion to his recent victories in Nommay and Hoogerheide in the 2020 Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. His solo win ahead of Kuhn and Hendrikx earned him the rainbow jersey he’s been dreaming of: “I’m just a second year Under 23 – next year I can ride the whole year in the jersey!”
Kamp and his compatriots who accumulated success on Saturday can now celebrate their achievements while the Men Junior, Women Under 23 and Men Elite get ready for the second day of battle in Dübendorf, this Sunday. Brace yourselves!
The full results from the first day of the 2020 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships are available here https://www.uci.org/cyclo-cross/events/uci-cyclo-cross-world-championships