Christine Majerus parlayed a strong start into her first Superprestige podium of the 2016/2017 season in Gavere on Sunday. The Luxembourg champion led for much of the first lap before settling into a front group of four riders that looked set to contest the podium positions.
“Gavere is one of my favourite ‘cross races out there,” said Majeurs. “Often there is a lot of mud, running and hills. It’s a technical race that throws everything at you.”
“Maths were on my side today,” she jokingly added. “I was ninth, seventh and fifth in the last years, so third is logical this time. Maybe next year I will win.”
The opening lap of what proved to be a five lap race saw Majerus on or near the front at every junction. She showed herself to be equally at ease in the technical sections as she was in the parts of the course that favoured power riders. Coming across the line for the start of lap two, Majerus had a small gap on Alice Arzuffi (Selle Italia Guerciotti) who had a small gap on Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm-Beobank), Sophie de Boer (Kalas-H.Essers-NNOF) and Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions)
“I took the lead whenever I could to take smooth lines,” explained Majerus. “For the rest, I tried to race smart following whenever I thought I could handle it and leaving a gap when I thought following would blow me up. I think I handled the challenges of the course well.”
Lap two saw the front group solidify. Azruffi and Van Loy fell off pace as Majerus, Cant and De Boer traded places just ahead. By the start of lap three Van Loy managed to tack back on while Arzuffi was further distanced. “
"I had a lot of confidence today from the last two races,” noted Majerus. “I was also pretty fresh as I had a three-day break to begin the week and some good quality training to end it. I knew that if I had a strong start, I could fight for the podium.”
And fight she did. As the composition of the front group shifted during the third and fourth laps with De Boer losing contact and Jolien Verschueren (Telent Fidea Lions) coming forward, Majerus remained calm, collected and in control at the head of affairs.
Van Loy fell off the pace on a hill in the second to last lap. A front group of three – Cant, Majerus and Verschueren – were left to fight for the podium positions.
“Sanne attacked before the technical zone, and I couldn’t follow, so I was a little behind,” said Majerus. “Sanne had the extra kick. It was better than what Jolien and I had today.”
Cant’s last lap attack was enough for the win. The Belgian champion finished a handful of seconds ahead of her compatriot. Majerus came to the line 27 seconds later to secure third place.
“I’m really happy with the podium at this Superprestige,” said Majerus. “It was a good day.”