Thursday 23 February 2012

Vio Cyclo Cross Masters Results

Just as they have done for the last two years, the current World Champions proved their mettle with victory on the unique indoor parcours at Hasselt - but it was Marianne Vos who dominated, rather than Niels Albert. In the time trial, conducted over a lap of the course, Albert took fifth place after a surprising victory by Dieter Vanthourenhout, the 26-year-old BKCP-Powerplus rider beating him by just 3.38" with 2'15.33" while Zenek Stybar took second place with a time of 2'15.45". Vos, meanwhile, beat second place Daphny Van Den Brand - racing her last race before retirement - by a far more decisive 14.26" at 2'32.43", while third place Joyce Vanderbeken was 17" down.

In the main race, Albert was victorious when he beat second place Stybar by the tiniest of margins, both men recording the same time. Vos, meanwhile, delivered a more crushing defeat for a second time; on this occasion beating second place Van Den Brand by 6" with a time of 20'29". Make no mistake, however - this was not a boring race, despite recent suggestions that the 24-year-old Dutch woman's supremacy might be killing women's 'cross, and she fought hard for it.

Vos and Van Den Brand - a sight we shall no longer see, as this was Daphny's last race
(image credit: Rolf Van Der Zwart CC BY 2.0)
It was Van Den Brand who led at the end of the first lap while Sanne Cant took second, giving the huge crowd of spectators a rare opportunity to see Vos in third position. By the end of Lap 2, Vos was leading both "on the road" and on overall time, while at the end of Lap 3 things had been shaken up - Vos still led overall, but was second over the line just behind Britain's Helen Wyman who had demonstrated why she's been National Champion for seven consecutive years by making her way to the front of the race after an uncharacteristically slow start. Vos was fastest again on Lap 4 but then finished Lap 5 in third place behind Van Den Brand and Joyce Vanderbeken, Cant now tiring and crossing fourth. In the penultimate lap, Vos was second after Van Den Brand gained a 2" advantage, Wyman taking third.

Sabrina Stultiens
As they entered the final, seventh lap, Vos was leading overall with Van Den Brand second and Cant third. This was the point at which she proved just how good she is: whereas all the other riders except for Sabrina Stultiens were noticeably slower - Van Den Brand finished the lap 7" slower than Lap 6, Cant 11" - Vos got faster, knocking a second off her Lap 6 time (Stultiens was 4" faster and was third over the line, but as she was in fifth place overall it made no difference). Wyman, the only British rider in the race as Gabby Day was kept away by injuries sustained in a crash at the last round of the GVA Trofee at Oostmalle last weekend, was fifth over the line and took sixth place overall.

Some people consider it nothing but a crowd-pleasing sideshow, but with Rabobank's recent announcement that it's considering entering Vos into a few men's races in order to prevent her becoming bored this event's Battle of the Sexes - in which the World Championship's top three men race against the top three women - was always going to be an interesting aside. Few expected a female winner, much as it would have been a great thing to see, but the result was not as quite a few people might have predicted: Niels won with Kevin Pauwels receiving the same time in second place, but Vos was a mere 1" behind them in third place with Van Den Brand only another second behind her for fourth. Fifth place Rob Peeters was 9" slower than Vos, which would appear to suggest that while Vos might not win every men's race she enters (should the "announcement" not prove to be the publicity stunt it rather resembles), she'd still hold her own.

1 VOS Marianne (Rabobank) 20:29

2 VAN DEN BRAND Daphny (AA Drink) +6"
3 CANT Sanne (BKCP-Powerplus) + 48"
4 VANDERBEKEN Joyce (Style&Concept) +1'25"
5 STULTIENS Sabrina (Brainwash) +1'40"
6 WYMAN Helen (Kona Factory Racing) +2'25"
7 VARDAROS Christine (Baboco) +3'01"
8 BOBER Nancy (Style&Concept) 3'21"
9 DE BIE-LEYTEN Nicolle (Telenet-Fidea) 19:51 -1 lap
10 VAN LOY Ellen (Kreikel) 17:19 -1 lap

Battle of the Sexes

1 ALBERT Niels 5'24"
2 PAUWELS Kevin 5'24"
3 VOS Marianne 5'25"
4 VAN DEN BRAND Daphny 5'26"
5 PEETERS Rob 5'34"
6 CANT Sanne 5'57"

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