Lucinda Brand (Telenet-Baloise) came out on top in a thrilling sprint to win the women’s Telenet Superprestige round in Zolder. The Telenet rider was the strongest rider in the race and was almost faultless as she constantly attacked her rivals. However a strong defence from world champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix) and several other riders ensured that Brand was never able to establish a healthy margin, even after several major attacks on the fifth and final lap.
In the sprint for the line, however, Brand had too much power, and she won ahead of Alvarado and Annemarie Worst (777). Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal). finished in fourth. Brand hit the front as the lead group came off a grass section and headed back onto the tarmac circuit. Alvardo was well-placed on Brand’s wheel but was unable to come through.
“It was a really fast one. It was really hard to get away. I tried a couple of times but I was never able to get more than 50 to 100 meters. I knew pretty soon that it would be a sprint but the question then was, how many riders. I’m happy that I could do it my way,” Brand said at the finish after taking the win at that also extended her lead in the overall standings.
Brand was on the front almost from the gun and was part of a powerful group that moved clear on the first lap. Alvarado took a tumble on the opening lap after a short dismount but was quickly able to regain contact to make a group of five that also included Brand, Worst, Betsema, and Inge Van Der Heijden. Brand attacked soon after Alvardo regained contact, with a powerful move on the steps toward the end of the second lap, with only Worst able to initially match her.
A bike change for Brand allowed the five leaders to come back together again but Van Der Heijden was the first to lose contact as Worst began to mount her challenge by upping the pace on lap four. However, the circuit and its punchy climbs were unable to truly split the strongest riders and it was left to the final lap.
Brand once more took control and attacked at the bell with Alvardo desperately sprinting onto her back wheel before the more technical sections began. A second attack from Brand did even more damage as the Dutch rider looked to make the difference before the stairs section. She was unable to drop her companions and Betsema – knowing that she had little chance in the sprint – hit the front before the final climbs. On a final steep section Alvardo once more lost her footing and although she managed to just about stay upright the incident allowed Brand to open a small gap with the world champion and the rest of the leaders held up. Alvardo made contact with Brand on the descent but as the riders came off the technical section Betsema and Worst had regained contact before Brand made no mistake with a convincing sprint win.