The rain came down in buckets in Heusden-Zolder when the U23 women and Elite women lined up for the pinnacle event of the season and the chance to win the highest honour in cyclocross: the rainbow jersey.
The night before the event, the skies opened up for a relentless deluge. What had been a fast and dry course the day before had now turned into a slippery, sloppy mess.
The 2016 UCI World Cyclocross Championships saw the debut of a women’s Under-23 category, open to all female athletes ages 17 to 22 and with a prize purse equal to that of their male counterparts (880 Euros for the win). It was British rider Evie Richards who won the inaugural event, followed by Nikola Noskova of the Czech Republic and Maud Kaptheijns of Netherlands.
The women’s Elite race followed that of the U23 women and it was a highly anticipated one. With no returning world champions and no lack of race favourites, the race was always going to be a highly competitive, the varying course conditions only added to the race dynamics. And the racing certainly did not disappoint. In the end, it was self proclaimed “roadie” Thalita de Jong who took the win. French rider Caroline Mani had a fantastic ride to earn silver and race-favourite Sanne Cant barely managed to hang in for third. Relive the action in our race report here and through the lens of Kristof Ramon below.