The Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup series came to an end in Hoogerheide on Sunday. Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team teammates Christine Majerus and Nikki Brammeier crossed the finish line alongside each other following the last lap of the fast, technical course. Majerus snagged the final spot in the top ten ahead of Brammeier, who closed out the World Cup season in 11th place.
“I felt the best that I’ve felt on the bike today since my crash at the Euros,” said Brammeier. “That’s a really positive sign, especially with some of the tiredness in my legs from yesterday.”
“I’m happy with finishing within 35-seconds of the race win today and saving 10th place,” said Majerus. “With the second place from yesterday, it’s a good race weekend.”
Brammeier rode a consistent race. The British cyclocross champion rode in or around the top ten for most of the 43-minute long effort. She seized an opportunity to move up mid-race, hopping on the wheel of World Cup overall winner Sophie de Boer (BreeparkA27) on lap four.
“I was moving up with Sophie until I crashed on lap four,” said Brammeier. “The crash messed with my rhythm. You can’t afford any mistakes in a race as fast as this one.”
The crash forced Brammeier back to the first chase group with eight riders, including Majerus, up ahead battling out for the podium.
“It was a super fast race,” said Brammeier. “I’m happy with my form at the moment. Now it’s all about rest and freshening up for Saturday. All the hard work is done at this point.”
Majerus may have finished in 10th place but on lap one, the Luxembourgish champion led the field around the 3100-metre circuit. World champion Thalita de Jong (Lares-Waowdeals) crashed quite heavily while setting a blistering pace on the front.
“From a tactical perspective, it wasn’t the smartest move to take the lead on the opening lap of a very fast race but it was instinct,” said Majerus. “In a race that isn’t a goal and on a lap that doesn’t suit me, I don’t think I need to think about tactics too much too early.”
Across the finish line for the start of lap two, Majerus continued to lead. An attack by Marianne Vos (WM3) inspired an immediate response with Sanne Cant (Enertherm-Beobank) and Majerus jumping to close the gap Vos had opened. One lap later, Majerus had shuffled back to 12th place, slightly trailing Brammeier in a large chase group.
“Nothing specific happened there,” said Majerus. “It was more that the race is like a criterium. The gaps weren’t big. That’s why I didn’t really fight for every single position in the middle of the race.”
Majerus made it back to the front group on lap four but shortly after bridging across to the leaders Majeru was caught behind a crash involving Clif Pro Team teammates Katerina Nash and Eva Lechner.
“It was right in front of me, and I had to get off my bike and run,” said Majerus. “On a fast lap like that, running seriously is the worst, so after that they were goine again. It was a little frustrating.”
It was the last Majerus would see of the very front of the race.
“It really wasn’t my favourite lap,” said Majerus. “It was way too fast for me. I’m happy with today considering that. Obviously I really hope that next week will be a real ‘cross race again and not this road race on a ‘cross bike.”
While the World Cup in Hoogerheide may not have been a target, the Cyclocross World Championships in Bieles is the biggest goal of the season for Majerus, an ambassador to Luxembourg’s first ‘cross championships event.