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Sanne Cant (Crelan-Corendon) closed out what could be the final cyclocross championship of her career with her 15th consecutive elite title in Meulebeke, having suggested she would retire before the start.
“I only plan to enjoy today,” Cant told Sporza at the start. “I’m probably at the start of my last Belgian Championship. So I’m really going to enjoy it.
“I will certainly take the time to think back on all the wonderful things, but I would like to win that 15th. That’s the intention, otherwise I wouldn’t have started today. I’m going to do everything I can.”
Cant followed through on her intentions, although she faced a strong challenge from Laura Verdonschot (De Ceuster-Bonache). Cant outsmarted her rival to take the victory after an exciting battle.
Cant followed 18-year-old Fleur Moors (Lidl-Trek) off the line with Verdonschot close behind. Moors fell back and Marion Norbert Riberolle moved into the top three at the end of the opening lap.
However, Cant stumbled on the barriers but fortunately Norbert-Riberolle and Verdonschot also fell. By the end of the second lap, Cant and Verdonschot were alone at the front and began trading blows.
Cant opened up a lead of almost 15 seconds by lap four but then crashed, allowing Verdonschot to come back.
On the final lap, it looked as if Cant had delivered another knock-out blow but Verdonschot clawed her way back, leading to a scintillating finale.
The pair came onto the muddy running track together but Cant ‘killer queen’ held onto the lead and celebrated her record 15th title with a primal scream of emotion. Norbert Riberolle was third.
“I had a nice lead and was able to ride my races nicely, but then I suddenly lay there and it became exciting again,” Cant said.
“I got into a deep rut. It was the first time I rode on that line. Just before I was thinking that I had to go back to the right, but I thought: it will also work on the left. I veered off track and got stuck behind a post with my shifter, causing me to go over the fence myself. My shifter was stuck, which caused me to struggle for a while,” Cant explained.
“Of course, Laura also got wings. Her morale may have dropped a bit because I already had a twenty second lead, but then it was suddenly exciting again. But I did have a plan in mind and it turned out well.”
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