Tears of joy: women’s cyclocross worlds in pictures
I was there last year, on the ground in Heusden-Zolder, for the 2016 UCI Cyclocross World Championships. Drenched from the pouring rain, I stood just yards from the finish line when Sanne Cant outsprinted Dutchwoman Sophie de Boer for the last remaining podium spot.
There was no celebration then, only tears of disappointment and the comfort of her dad’s shoulder who had been waiting for her at the line.
European champion; Belgian national champion; winner of the Superprestige series, the BPost Bank Trophy and the UCI World Cup – Cant had won them all but her winning streak had come to an end at the most inopportune moment…again.
In Tabor the previous year, in 2015, there were tears of bitterness, frustration and anger when Cant lost the sprint to winner Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. These tears, the ones in Heusden-Zolder, were not of bitterness but of pure devastation. The legs simply hadn’t been there that day. Resting her forehead on her dad, tears freely streaming down her face, shoulders heaving, Cant was inconsolable. And my heart broke watching her.
Tears were there again for Cant in Bieles this past weekend. They came almost as soon as she crossed the line. Utterly spent, she laid on the ground breathing heavily when the tears started flowing, smearing the mud spatters on her face.
The tears would continue to fall on the podium, but this time they were the best kind of tears. Tears of elation and joy. Tears that showed just how much she had longed for those rainbow stripes and that golden medal around her neck.
She had dreamt of this day since she was just six years old. And for the past 20 years, her entire life had had this one singular focus. Oh, and she had been so close! She’d been on this podium three times before, and those bronze and silver medals haunted her. But not this year. This year, the gold and rainbows are hers.
1. Sanne Cant, Belgium
2. Marianne Vos, The Netherlands
3. Katerina Nash, The Czech Republic