Nikki Brammeier rode a strong race to take second place in the Superprestige cross in Gavere on Sunday, behind Ellen van Loy (Telenet-Fideo Lions). It was the second podium place of the weekend for Brammeier and her third podium in the 2017-2018 Superprestige, after a second place in Gieten and third in Zonhoven.
The British champion used the slippery, muddy conditions to lead throughout the entire race with Van Loy on her wheel. Only in the last hundred meters did Van Loy pass Brammeier. Both exhausted from the fourty-minute muddy race, Van Loy won the two-up sprint for the win.
“If you told me last week that I would win yesterday and get second today, I would have been happy, so I can’t be too disappointed,” said Brammeier.
Brammeier didn’t have a perfect start, getting caught up and having to work her way back to the front. In the first lap though, Brammeier used her technical skills to catch everyone in front of her. She led the first time across with a short gap to Van Loy.
Teammate Christine Majerus, who returned to international cyclocross racing this weekend after having enjoyed her off-season, fared better at the start, leading the race into the mud.
"This was my first high-level race after sickness and my off-season, so I was aware that I couldn't aim for podium like last year, but it turned out that I was better then expected," said Majerus.
Majerus paid a little for her fast start and dropped back a couple of places, but managed to finish seventh after a solid race.
"It's important to stay out of trouble in the first lap in these races, so I prefer to overblowing and safety over easy and risky," she said. "I paid for that start on the second lap, but laps three and four were good. I like these kind of races with mud, running and technical sections and above all fighting."
During the four laps that the race consisted of, Brammeier led in the mud. Each lap, she increased her advantage to Van Loy on the long hill that was part of the course, but each time, Van Loy was able to get back on her wheel.
“It was really difficult but I love these conditions,” said Brammeier. “The harder the better. When it’s muddy, I always enjoy these courses.
With the danger of Van Loy behind her, Brammeier could never relax and had to keep the pressure on the pedals. A crash on the last lap cost her precious time, which allowed Van Loy to reach and pass her just before the finish straight.
“The crash on the last lap, I was pretty annoyed with myself,” Brammeier said. “I think it cost me the win. But Ellen was also really strong, I think it was a good battle between us. Good for the spectators, good for the cyclocross. “
“I’m super happy, disappointed not to win, but still happy,” Brammeier concluded. “I hope the rain continues for the next few weeks and we get more difficult races.”