British cyclocross champion Nikki Brammeier rode herself onto the Rucphen podium on Saturday. Despite two last lap crashes, Brammeier managed to solo across the line in second place behind Laura Verdonschot (Marlux Napoleon Games). It is the first international podium for Brammeier since her return from injury in December.
“It was a really fast course with a lot of corners,” said Brammeier. “I got a little bit stuck on the first lap because it was difficult to pass anyone, and that’s when Laura got a little gap.
“The gap stayed the same between us for the rest of the race,” Brammeier continued. “I was second the whole way. I crashed twice on the last lap, but I had a pretty big gap on third place, so it was okay.”
“I’m feeling good on the bike,” Brammeier added. “Today is not my favourite course, so it gives me confidence for the next important races. It was good to be on the podium again.”
Two hundred kilometres to the east, Luxembourgish champion Christine Majerus matched Brammeier’s result. Part of a trio of riders doing battle for the top step of the Kasteelcross podium in Zonnebeke, Majerus missed out on a change to truly challenge for the win due to a technical error.
Majerus has raced six times in January. She’s put herself on the podium each time and recorded five victories.
“My lap was fast with a lot of turns and a lot of frozen terrain,” said Majerus. “It’s not something I particularly like but I felt okay and wanted to have a good workout before Hoogerheide tomorrow.
“From the start, there were three in front with De Jong (Lares-Waowdeals), Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) and me,” Majerus explained. “In lap four, I made a mistake in one of the step-off parts. I cut my knee and my back wheel went loose. By the time I fixed everything, I had a gap to the other two.”
Majerus chased to reach De Jong and Van Loy. The moment Majerus made contact, De Jong attacked.
“I could leave Van Loy behind, but I didn’t make it back to Thalita,” said Majerus. “I rode the same speed as her, but she had a gap, and it wasn’t enough. I’m still happy because the lap wasn’t in my favour and still my performance was good apart from the crash.”
Brammeier and Majerus line up together on Sunday. The duo will race the final round of the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup series in Hoogerheide, Belgium.