British rider Helen Wyman grabbed the hole shot in Koksijde but she was quickly passed by Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Veldritacademie Enertherm – BKCP). Halfway through the opening lap Harris and Compton moved past the Belgian who – maybe caught by surprise – went over the handlebars in the dune drop that followed. In a long sand section Harris worked hard to stay on her bike while Compton opted for a long run. Compton moved to the lead and in the remaining metres to the first passage of the finish line she turned on the gas and gapped the rest of the field; Harris quickly trailed by 10 seconds.
“I got off to a good start and a smooth beginning of my race. Today I didn’t have the technical skills for the sand so I muscled through it,” Compton said.
Compton rode a clean second lap during the five-lap race, allowing her to increase her lead up to 40 seconds on Harris. “I tried to stay with her but with five laps to go I didn’t want to blow up,” Harris said. “I was happy to be on my own, actually, as I could choose my own lines.”
Harris continued as the first chaser but she was marked by French rider Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (BHSR Suntour-Peisey Vallandry). “I hoped she would run out of gas and I rode my own pace,” Harris said.
Behind the top three a group with Cant, Wyman and Sanne Van Paassen rode together at more than a minute from Compton before the halfway point.
Though Compton made a couple of mistakes in the following laps she was still much faster than the opposition and kept increasing her lead up to more than a minute at the finish. Harris rode comfortably to second place, her best result in the World Cup. Behind her Chainel started fading and she was eventually overtaken by Cant on the final lap. “I lost my rhythm,” Chainel told Cyclingnews.
Wyman gapped Van Paassen in the final stages of the race to secure fifth place. While the rain was pouring down at the finish line a clearly disappointed van Paassen hurried to get back to her camper without giving a reaction.
1 Katie Compton (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective 0:44:10
2 Nikki Harris (GBr) Young Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:01:27
3 Sanne Cant (Bel) Veldritacademie Enertherm – BKCP 0:01:56
4 Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (Fra) BH – SR Suntour – Peisey Vallandry 0:02:04
5 Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Team 0:02:16
6 Sanne van Paassen (Ned) Rabobank Women Team 0:02:33
7 Jasmin Achermann (Swi) Rapha-Focus 0:02:54
8 Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Rabobank Women Team 0:03:16
9 Pavla Havlikova (Cze) Young Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team
10 Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus 0:03:29