The race began Helen Wyman getting the holeshot, followed immediately by Lucie Chainel-Lefevre. However, the main drama on the first lap were two great misfortunes for last year's runner-up, Hoogerheide winner and race favourite Evan Lechner. She went down in the second corner, colliding with Sabrina Stultiens. The camera panned away, but when it was back, she was jogging disconsolately towards the pits, frame in one hand, wheel and rear derailleur in the other. As Simon Burney said, "that's her race over."
Meanwhile, in front, Chainel-Lefevre was leading, while Wyman had dropped back to the main group, a selection involving her team-mate Nikki Harris, Sanne Cant, Marianne Vos, Chainel Lefevre's team-mate Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, and home rider Katerina Nash. She led by seven seconds at the start of the second lap.
By the second lap, attacks started to be made, Wyman and Harris were dropped, but Harris rejoined, and Chainel-Lefevre was caught, as the group began the third. This is where hostilities were really opened, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot used Chainel-Lefevre as a slingshot for an attack, Vos had a go, but the attack that got the best gap was Ferrand-Prevot again, who Cant later tried to bridge up to, she was looking dangerous. This caused gaps, leaving one between Ferrand-Prevot and Cant, one between Cant and Nash, one between Nash and Vos, and one between Vos and Nikki Harris. Harris was at the back of the group with Wyman a bit further back. Wyman was trying to bridge back up after being dropped. Could she repeat last year's bronze? It wasn't looking brilliant for the British riders, but considerably better than it had all season.
Ferrand-Prevot was still in the lead, but within easily bridgeable distance, only four or five seconds at the beginning of the penultimate lap. Cant had been recaptured. Meanwhile, Eva Lechner was setting fastest laps. Oh Eva, what might have been. Nash took up the chase of PFP, setting a fierce pace. This pace was not enough for Cant, however, who clipped off the front. Ahead of her, Ferrand-Prevot went down, was quickly up again, but lost some of her hard-won lead. Ferrand-Prevot seemed to be having trouble, had her bike broken? Was she rattled? Likely the former, but a bike change straight away rectified that problem. Cant also went into the pits, along with the group behind, led for the first time by Harris, in form for the first time since late November.
Finally, at the planks on lap 4, Cant caught Ferrand-Prevot. They were followed by Vos, and then Harris, with Nash a second or two behind. Vos, out of the saddle, chased the leaders hard, as the Sanne Cant attacked Ferrand-Prevot. This attack propelled them still further ahead of Vos. Another mistake from Ferrand-Prevot gave Cant a good gap, as the Frenchwoman had to clip out, and lost her grip on the bike. The shouts from the Belgian supporters were...quite loud.
As the riders entered the last lap, Sanne Cant led by 2 seconds from PFP, who was 5 seconds ahead of the Vos group. It truly was all to play for. Vos knew she had to catch Cant and Ferrand-Prevot, who were now back together, and rode hard at the beginning of the lap. Ferrand-Prevot moved to the front. Vos moved to the back, as Nash and Harris accelerated and the snow got heavier. Nash was pushing hard, Cant was pushing hard, Vos was in the thick of it, the crowd were going crazy! You could see the fatigue of the riders, going over the planks, they could hardly raise their legs.
Vos and Nash were beginning to set an even harder pace, and Harris was struggling, she began to drop back. Up front, PFP and Cant traded attacks. Nash tried to drop Vos, to avoid a sprint. up the hill, Cant had to get off, but Ferrand-Prevot continued to ride, using the barriers.
There was drama behind. Nash crashed, handing Vos the upper hand.
With 500 metres to go, Ferrand-Prevot led by 2 seconds. Marianne Vos gapped Nash. Harris was fourth. Nash went down again, losing all hope of a home medal.
Going onto the tarmac, Ferrand-Prevot and Cant were back together.
Soon after, Ferrand-Prevot launched the sprint.
100 metres later, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot was cyclo-cross World Champion.
- Pauline Ferrand-Prevot
- Sanne Cant
- Marianne Vos
- Nikki Harris
- Katerina Nash
- Lucie Chainel-Lefevre
- Helen Wyman
- Ellen Van Loy
- Christine Marjerus
- Sophie de Boer