Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) took her third cyclocross win of the season at the Exact Cross in Mol, powering away from teammate Shirin van Anrooij on the third lap and never looking back as she maintained her pace to secure victory.
She adds this win to victories at the World Cups in Flamanville and Dublin and lived up to her billing as the favourite. Brand had enough time to punch the air past her pit crew as she completed her final lap 21 seconds ahead of her teammate.
“It was tough, but it felt good. I felt it was time to go. I thought I better just give it a try,” said Brand of her attack ahead of Van Anrooij.
“Shirin is good in the sand. When I entered the sand on the third lap I passed the bottom and when I turned at the bottom she was gone. I just tried it. Apparently, she had a bad lap, so you lose a lot of strength.”
A great battle for the podium kicked off behind Brand between three other formers winners in Mol with Van Anrooij first fading away from her teammate only to come back and retake second ahead of Laura Verdonschot (De Ceuster-Bonache) and Sanne Cant (Crelan-Corendon).
Brand and Van Anrooij shot off the start line and immediately into a lead over Vanderschot, but as the laps went on and the two Ducthwomen traded first place, Brand was clearly the stronger.
She moved away from Van Anrooij at the halfway point, with the 21-year-old who won last time out in Mol in 2022 dropping back to Vanderschot and even falling into third.
Vanderschot and Cant are both Belgian and grew up racing on the sandy terrain, showing their specialised skills over each sandy section, but Van Anrooij would come out on top by the end of the sixth lap.
At the front, Brand was in no trouble aside from a few minor slips, able to hold a lead of more than 20 seconds all the way to the finish.
The former World Champion may have started her CX schedule later than expected due to a shoulder injury sustained on the road at the end of the season but seems very much back to her best.
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