Blanka Vas (SD Worx) took a phenomenal debut World Cup victory at Overijse in Belgium, a career best for the 20-year-old Hungarian.
Every year, the cyclocross world looks forward to the spectacle of Overijse, nicknamed the ‘Mother of all crosses’. This event is a Classic of the ’cross calendar, and this year it marks round five of the CX World Cup.
With a mix of terrains including road, cobbles, sand, mud and everything in between, a large part of racing Overijse is choosing which tyres to run and at what pressure. The pits were very busy all race, and never more so than immediately after the very first climb up the cobbled Loensdelleweg. Blanka Vas, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix) were among the few who didn’t opt for a bike change so early in the race, and they took advantage while so many others – including Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) – were held up in the chaos.
Betsema enjoyed a small gap for a lap, but the World Cup leader was not exempt from the slipping and sliding that everyone had to contend with. After three laps (of five), Vas and U23 World Cup leader Pieterse had caught and passed a fading Betsema, the young pair looking most at home on the technical and treacherous course.
Vas had looked strongest and most confident throughout the race, and as Pieterse too began to struggle, the young Hungarian put the hammer down on the descent through the meadow.
The 20-year-old national champion rode the last lap alone, stretching her advantage so she could take more care in the technical sections, and she stayed away to take the biggest victory of her career. Pieterse came home 15 seconds later to take the runner-up spot, another personal best. Third place went to Lucinda Brand who caught Betsema late in the last lap after chasing all race, taking back the lead in overall World Cup standings.