Christine Majerus snagged the final spot on the podium in Spa on Saturday at Superprestige Francorchamps. The newly minted 2016 Luxembourgish Sportswoman of the Year led the first lap of the five-lap race and rode in the top three from start to finish.
“The course is hard, so that plays in my favour,” noted Majerus. “I was sure about my shape, that it’s good, because I had a physical test yesterday, and I compared it to last year’s test. It was good for the mind.”
The Luxembourgish champion has devoted training time to practicing her starts, and her efforts have consistently proved worthwhile. Race-after-race, Majerus leads the charge off the line. Coming around the first turn, Majerus had a small gap to world champion Thailta de Jong (Rabo-Liv), who was second wheel.
“It’s an epic lap with lots of running, technical parts and uphill,” said Majerus. “Even if it’s hard, I really like it. I had a super start, so I could choose my lines – taking it easy, you could say.
Majerus clocked a 9:36 opening lap as she passed the finish line for the first time. De Jong was two seconds behind in third followed by Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm-Beobank) and Ellen Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) at four seconds.
An early effort on lap two saw De Jong bridge across and eventually catch Majerus, and when Majerus bobbled, De Jong pounced. Up a steep, slick grassy run-up, Cant and Van Loy began to close in, and it looked like a heated battle amongst the top four was beginning to take shape.
De Jong crashed heavily at the start of lap three, and mid-way around the course, Majerus and Cant were back in the race lead. The world champion regained contact with the duo before the next passage of the finish, and the rainbow stripes led across the line for the start of lap four.
De Jong’s two-second gap on the fourth passage of the finish line stretched out to a 14-second advantage by the time Majerus, riding with Cant, heard the bell.
“In the last lap, I had a back wheel puncture,” noted Majerus. “I was far from the pit, so I was happy I managed to get there without losing to much time, but I couldn’t make it back to Sanne after that.”
Despite the flat, Majerus managed to hold off Van Loy, who was riding alone in fourth place. Majerus has now recorded five top five finishes in the last five of her six UCI races.
“Considering the crash and the flat, third place on a great lap with great fans is super,” said Majerus.