Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank Women Cycling) won the opening round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Tábor, Czech Republic with a sprint victory over U.S. champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective). British champion Helen Wyman (Kona) concluded a long ride in no man’s land with a great third place result to round out the podium 36 seconds later.
“This is incredible for me. I hoped to win, but I thought a podium would be ok,” van Paassen told Sporza. “It was a hard suffer-fest today. Katie is really good and it was a tough course. Especially the last half lap was really hard.”
It wasn’t just on the last lap that Compton put pressure on van Paassen, she tried to do so for most of the race but never managed to drop the 23-year-old Dutch rider.
“I constantly told myself: ‘Hold that wheel, hold that wheel. Boom, back to that wheel’. It was the only thing I thought about, getting back to that wheel and then over it. It succeeded,” said van Paassen.
Early on Compton wasn’t spotted near the front. She didn’t have a great start and needed some time to get back up to van Paassen, who was leading together with Wyman and Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Veldritacademie Enertherm-BKCP). Halfway through the second lap van Paassen hit the gas and Cant quickly dropped back. Compton went up and over Wyman and joined van Paassen in the lead late on the second lap. For the remainder of the race Wyman kept the two leaders in sight but she never managed to close the gap again. Heading into the fifth and final lap Wyman trailed Compton and van Paassen by 18 seconds, but the deficit would balloon on the final circuit.
Compton used her technical skills to gain a slight gap on a downhill into a tricky off-camber section late on the final lap, but van Paassen made contact with Compton just as they turned left onto the paved finishing straight. Compton led-out the sprint, but van Paassen came around the U.S. champion for the sprint victory.
Thirteen seconds after Wyman’s third place finish, Cant won a hard-fought sprint for fourth place from Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea), Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Hitec Products – Mistral Home Cycling Team) and Jasmin Achermann (Rapha-Focus).
Pavla Havlikova (Telenet-Fidea), who set the early tempo in Tábor, was unable to keep up the high pace in front of the home crowds and ultimately finished eighth, one minute down on van Paassen.
American U23 champion Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) rode a steady race and finished ninth, well ahead of Gabriella Day (Rapha-Focus) who rounded out the top-10.