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2009 Cyclo-cross World Championships - CM

Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, January 31-February 1, 2009

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Stage 3 - February 1: Elite Women, 40 minutes

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer and Bjorn Haake

11:17 CET   
Good morning and welcome to the 'cross World Championships! We are starting off with the women today, and expect to see a battle between Germany, the Netherlands and the US. It is an interesting course and the weather can be described in one word: COLD!

Things should get started at half past.

11:29 CET   
The shivering women are standing at the start line, hopping up and down to get warm.

Did we mention that it is COLD?

11:30 CET   
They will take off in about two minutes. They are now taking off their jackets - and they are really getting cold now!

Defending champion Hanka Kupfernagel is in the front row.

11:31 CET   
Off they are!

11:31 CET   
Crash in the first turn!!! What a start.

11:32 CET   
Saskia Elemans (Netherlands) is slow to get up. A French rider also went down, but all are underway again.

11:33 CET    2minutes/43minutes to go
Compton leads! She takes the first steps ahead of the others, about 5 seconds

11:34 CET   
Kupfernagel is chasing, with four riders following her. Compton has probably a lead of about 80m

11:35 CET   
Katie Compton, 30, of the USA, is one of the top favourites today. Two years ago she won silver in the Worlds, and last year she unfortunately had to drop out in the first lap with cramps. She is current US 'cross champion – a title she has held five years running now.

11:36 CET   
Compton has won three World Cups this season, and been in contention in almost all the races she has ridden. She is hoping for mud, sand and lots of yucky conditions – which exactly suit her style. "I like the mud and sand better because it's more just power and there's less tactics involved," she told Cyclingnews. Unfortunately for her, our expert Brecht Decaluwé says that while she "has the best combination of power and skills, she may not find the drier, less-demanding course to her liking."

11:38 CET    7minutes/38minutes to go
Melchers-Van Poppel and Vos are also near the front group . Compton has completed the first lap and she is still out front.

She will be trying to make the race hard in light of the lack of sand and mud. Kupfernagel is still dong most of the chase work.

11:40 CET   
Kupfernagel is obviously cold, she is shaking her hands trying to get some blood moving. There is now a group with Kupfernagel, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (France) and Marianne Vos (Netherlands) chasing Compton.

11:41 CET    11minutes/34minutes to go
Van Den Brand and Melchers are in a group behind. Will Compton hang on to her lead and surprise the howmetown favourites? Her lead has increased to about 200m!

11:42 CET   
The chase trio is on the asphalt section. A short grassy uphill and more asphalt. The description as a criterium course is definitely accurate.

11:44 CET   
Top favourite has to be defending champion Hanka Kupfernagel of Germany, who also won the title in 2000, 2001, and 2005. The 34-year-old won the overall World Cup is particularly strong on the less-technically demanding and fast courses. „First place can be my only goal,“ she said.

Cyclocross isn't the only thing Kupfernagel is good at. She won the 2007 Women's Time Trial World title, and rode both the time trial and road race in the Beijing Olympics last summer.

11:45 CET   
Kupfernagel won on the podium for all eight World Cup races this season, although she finished second in the last five races. „That is enough of that!“ she said. „Now I want to be on top of the podium again!“

Did we mention that she is also German and European Champion?

11:45 CET    14minutes/31minutes to go
Compton has nine seconds over the trio. The American rides by the grand stand. The spectators are five to six deep. Welcome to the heart of 'cross racing!

Kupfernagel's pace is relentless and Ferrier-Bruneau leaves a gap now.

The second chase group is half a minute back as they head into the third lap.

11:47 CET   
Daphny van den Brand, 30, won the title in 2003 and also has three third-place finishes. She most recently won the last World cup race in Milan, beating none other than defending World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel. And of course she has the advantage of being a home favourite.

11:47 CET   
Vos is still sitting on Kupfernagel's wheel. This could be crucial in the end. Side by side they hop off the bike and run up the stairs. On top, Kupfernagel takes the lead again.

11:48 CET   
Marianne Vos of the Netherlands is significantly younger than the other favourites, being only 21. But she sure has an impressive record for such a tender age: A gold medal in track from Beijing, and World titles on the road (2006), 'cross (2006) and points (2008). Oh yes, she won the road World cup in 2007, too. Now that's a very talented young woman!

11:50 CET    20minutes/25minutes to go
Compton has been caught, so she, Kupfernagel and Vos are now building the front group.

11:51 CET   
Ben Atkins is cyclingnews' women's cycling expert, and we asked him to pick our winner today. His answer: Vos or van den Brand, „because it's going to be fast and probably end in a sprint.“

It took Atkins a bit longer to come up with his dark-horse candidate for an upset winner, but he eventually decided on Sanne Cant of Belgium. He noted that she is „very young“ -- indeed, she is only 18!

The Belgian would be overjoyed if Atkins' prediction is right. They finished outside of the medals in the first two races, the juniors and U-23.

11:52 CET   
Melchers is chasing behind, some 20 seconds back. A larger group of about seven riders is 50m behind Melchers.

Vos is still not taking any turns.

11:53 CET   
There are 38 women taking to the course here, representing 12 countries. The national breakdown works this way: German 3, France 5, Netherlands 5, USA 5, Italy 5, Belgium 2, Japan 2, Canada 3, Great Britain 3, Czech Republic 2 Austria 1 and Switzerland 2.

11:53 CET   
Compton is putting on the pressure again, leaving a gap of a few metres to Kupfernagel. Melchers is closing in on the three.

11:55 CET   
Compton is reeled again and Kupfernagel leads the others down a steep drop. Melchers is about 15 seconds back.

11:58 CET   
Kupfernagel attacks!!! They are on the asphalt section. Compton swings over and Vos is forced to chase.

11:59 CET    28minutes/17minutes to go
They head into lap four. Vos is still behind the German, but Compton has a hard time. She is five seconds off the pace. Van Den Brand is now 20 seconds behind. It seems Melchers has dropped back.

12:00 CET   
Compton has recovered a bit and is only ten metres behind as the three sweep around a 180 degree turn.

The crowd is going nuts - they see Vos already as the winner.

12:01 CET   
A group of five is chasing. Van Den Brand and Melchers are leading it.

12:01 CET   
Melchers, 33, has been on the circuit for about 10 year now. She is actually better known for her road racing, having won lots of races there. She has won some smaller stage races, but is actually a one-day race specialist.

12:03 CET   
Where is Hoogerheide, you ask? It is in the very southwestern of the Netherlands, in the province of North Brabant, nearly on the Belgian border. It has 9000 inhabitants normally, but this weekend that number has jumped.

12:04 CET   
Kupfernagel slows down, she wants Vos to take over. But Vos also slows down - track stands at a 'cross race. Compton can't watch it and takes the front again.

The chasers are Sanne Cant (Belgium), Sanne Van Paassen and Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Netherlands), Caroline Mani (France) and Rachel Lloyd (United States Of America)

12:06 CET    35minutes/10minutes to go
Vos is continuing to sit on as they head into the final lap.

12:07 CET   
Kupfernagel tries a strong attack on an artificial bridge, but Vos is attentive. Compton also hangs on. The three will get the medals, but in which order?

12:08 CET   
Compton has a hard time now, some ten metres off the back. She now doubt feels her opening attack.
Kupfernagel leads on the stairs.

12:09 CET   
Another 180 and a short climb. Kupfernagel gives it all.

Cant is leading the chasers, some 20 secs back.

Compton is definitely dropped.

12:09 CET   
This place will explode if Vos takes the win -- nothing better than a hometown heroine! And she would of course dearly love to add yet another World title to her collection.

12:09 CET   
As Compton hits the asphalt, she tries hard - she won't give up. Still some ten metres to close

12:10 CET   
Kupfernagel gets on the final asphalt section first, Vos in tow.

Compton still 20m back

12:11 CET    42minutes/3minutes to go
Kupfernagel tries to put the pressure on Vos - Vos has the better sprint.

12:11 CET   
Compton is getting closer again! She won't give up.

12:11 CET   
She made it!!! Compton at the tail end, behind Vos.

12:12 CET   
Vos takes the lead for the first time, Kupfernagel in third.

12:12 CET   
Vos opens the sprint!

12:12 CET   
The spectators hit the barriers with their hands - she has a good gap now

12:13 CET   
Vos makes it! Kupfernagel finishes second! Compton gets bronze

12:24 CET   
Vos said that she hopes the Worlds will "be held in Holland again soon." She was referring to getting a second title at home.

12:25 CET   
Compton steps onto the podium and waves to the crowd.

Then it is Kupfernagel's turn. The American and the German have marked the race, but it is Vos who ran away with gold.

12:25 CET   
As Vos steps on the top spot, the second and third placed riders applaud fairly, though.

The National Anthem of the Netherlands is played.

12:28 CET   
Eising in the junior's race, Vos in the women's -- does this lead up to Lars Boom taking a third gold for the host nation?

Find out later today - two more hours to the start of the men's race!!!

Join us at 14:30 CEST time (8:30 USA East, 0:30 Australia time)

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