With many top riders choosing to stay away from Hoogstraten's Vlaamse Aardbeiencross round of the Superprestige, due at least partly to the Series' apparent lack of interest in women's cycling (as expressed by Superprestige president Etienne Gevaert in this VeloNation interview), many fans wishing to choose a favourite for victory will have selected between just two names - Britain's Nikki Harris, who was second here in 2011, and Belgian Champion Sanne Cant, who won last year.
Cant rode hard to beat Vos and Wyman at Krawatencross, where Harris was fourth, just 24 hours before this race; but she's proved many times before that she's very capable of making a rapid recovery from extreme effort and coming back even stronger. When you're the female 'Cross Champ of Belgium you have no other choice because you're in demand every weekend - despite what a dinosaur like Gevaert thinks. Cant's also known to be a very, very good rider on sand, so the long sandpit leading to the finish line was likely to do her some favours.
Harris, meanwhile, is very, very good in the mud - and although conditions two hours before the race began were reported to be dry (and windy), heavy rain had fallen several times in the week prior to the race and had left the parcours muddy for most of its length. This, in the end, gave her the advantage she needed.
More details to come...
1 Nikki Harris (GBR)
2 Sanne Cant (BEL)
3 Jolien Verschueren (BEL)
More results to come....