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Sanne Cant, World Champion: Saturday Recap

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A tricky course in Bieles played host to some amazing racing on the first day of worlds.

Tim De WaeleLC/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images

In 2015, Sanne Cant finished in second place to Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in Tabor. Last year, she finished third to Thalita De Jong. 2017, however, is clearly her year. She is cyclocross world champion for the first time, securing Belgium's first medal of the weekend and (amazingly) their first gold medal in the eighteen editions of the women's world championships, beating Marianne Vos in a two-up sprint at the conclusion of the five-lap race. "A fall in the penultimate round loosened my shoe, and I no longer believed I could win but when I suddenly saw Marianne standing still I thought 'I can do it,'" she said. ""I beat a seven-time world champion, a monument in cycling. Marianne us today put everyone under pressure, but I did not have the impression that she was better than me. When she could not go, she began to doubt herself, and I became stronger."

It was Vos who took the early initiative, shooting out of her starting position on the second row of the grid up to the front of the race. She put on the early pressure, forcing a group clear early on. It was she, Cant and Brand who seemed the strongest early on, as Eva Lechner faded after a good first two laps. When Vos attacked once again in the later laps, and Brand fell victim to a difficult off-camber descent, it was clear that Cant was the only one who could prevent the seven-time world champion from making it her eighth. Cant had a fall herself, however, causing her to lose Vos' wheel on the penultimate lap. As the race hit the laatste ronde, Vos had the lead by eight seconds as Cant struggled behind. It looked like she was headed for heartbreak once again.

The race had another twist in it yet, however. Vos hiccuped going through a seemingly innocuous corner, and in the blink of an eye was standing stationary, pulling frantically at her bike's chain. This wiped out her advantage completely and by the time she was back in the saddle, Cant had passed her. While Vos could get past her rival again in the lap, the Belgian showed more nerve on the same off-camber descent that had claimed Brand to go into the lead. She would not relinquish it. She started the sprint in front, and proved too strong for Vos, who put her head down before Cant had crossed the.

Elsewhere, Tom Pidcock, Dan Tulett and Ben Turner answered Chris' question as to whether British cyclists were now taking over cyclocross with a marvellous 1-2-3 for the nation. Pidcock followed the early attack of France's Maxime Bonsergent and attacking him soon after. He wouldn't be seen again for the rest of the race, charging to a gold medal. Bonsergent suffered terrible luck, crashing numerous times and even losing his shoe, leaving it forlorn on the ground as he ran, bloody, to the pits. He would finish a determined, but sad, twentieth, four minutes behind Pidcock. Tulett and Turner fought it out for the silver medal, slipping and sliding numerous times on the treacherous off-cambers, with Tulett beating his compatriot.

Finally, Annemarie Worst provided some early success for the Netherlands in the under-23 women's race. Worst would fight it out with the three other race favourites: Ellen Noble, Laura Verdonschot and Evie Richards, the defending champion. Verdonschot, who crashed painfully twice, was the first to drop out of contention: she would finish fourth. Richards cracked a couple of laps later. Finally, an attack from Worst halfway through the final lap propelled her to the line, as she broke Noble, who achieved a medal for America.