Cyclo-cross specialists are gearing up to test their speed, strength, grit and determination at the 2020-2021 edition of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. The upcoming promises to be action-packed with five events in some of the most spectacular venues, starting in Tábor this Sunday.
Among the stars lining up in Czech Republic, the Women Elite 2020 UCI World Champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado is definitely there with the intention to impose her talents upon her elders. The Dutchwoman is only 22 years old, but she’s the new leader of her discipline, proudly sporting the rainbow jersey she claimed last February in Dübendorf (Switzerland), brilliantly capping off an impressive season on all fronts.
The end-of-season rankings reflect her absolute dominance in the Under 23 category and her unstoppable rise through the Elite ranks. She won the Women Under 23 UCI World Cup overall rankings, unbeaten in the category in the seven races she attended.
She was also second among the Elite riders, with Annemarie Worst surging for the overall victory in the last race of the UCI World Cup, in Hoogerheide: Worst finished 2nd in the Dutch round while Alvarado had to settle for 6th after a crash in the final few hundred metres.
“I hope to do even better than last year”
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado immediately bounced back to glory, claiming gold in Dübendorf ahead of Worst. A superb achievement, after taking bronze (2019) and silver (2018) medals in the Under 23 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. It only confirmed Alvarado’s appetite for success.
“I hope to do even better than last year, win more races and be more steady. And above all, I hope I’ll keep my World Champion jersey one more year”, she told Direct Vélo while displaying her talents on a totally different type of event. She was riding the road stage race, Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche, where she finished 2nd in the best young rider standings behind the Italian Camilla Alessio while the American Lauren Stephens won the race.
The beginning of the autumn also saw the Dutchwoman shine on the mountain bike. She treated herself to a victory in the UCI World Cup’s Czech event in Nové Město na Moravě and the bronze medal in the UCI World Championships raced in Leogang (Austria): both times in the U23 category. It’s a versatility that’s reminiscent of her compatriot Mathieu Van der Poel’s many accomplishments – but Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado has made it clear she wants to ride her own path to success.
Early success calls for more triumphs
Her many conquests in the Under 23 and Elite ranks contrast with her difficult years as a Junior. "I had my fair share of bad luck with knee problems, glandular fever and pneumonia. That was bad enough," she told CyclingTips in a feature ahead of the return of the UCI World Cup. “I want to balance cyclo-cross, mountain bike and road until the Olympics in Paris ”, she also explains.
The return of cyclo-cross events has already seen her claim more success with remarkable reliability. She leads the rankings of the Superprestige series after four rounds (two victories and two podium places). She won the Ethias Cross in Leuven. And she triumphed in the Women Elite race of the European Championships on Dutch soil, in ’s-Hertogenbosch at the beginning of November.
As she highlighted on her social media, it was the third year in a row she claimed gold at the Euros, but it was the first time she did it in the Elite category, after two titles as an Under 23 rider. She is the first rider to win in both categories since the U23 race was introduced in 2013.
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado now heads for the Czech Republic and the first round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Tábor, where she has the opportunity to start in the best way possible. She’s hunting for a second victory at this level after she claimed success in Koksijde (Belgium) last season. It was already November, and the Dutch rising star had climbed on the podium at Tábor before triumphing in Flanders.
She had never featured on the Elite podium of a UCI World Cup event before last season, but that’s what she did, six times out of seven races, Hoogerheide being the only exception due to her late crash. On five of these six podiums, she had to settle for second, behind her compatriots Annemarie Worst (winner in Bern, Tábor and Nommay) and Lucinda Brand (Namur and Heusden-Zolder). But now Alvarado only has eyes for the victory.