At the European Cycling Championships in Pontchâteau, French junior Célia Gery captured the European title in a compelling performance before a home crowd. The 17-year-old established a lead right from the onset, which she maintained throughout the race.
Sunday’s packed schedule saw the women juniors kick off the day’s events at 9 am due to the inclement weather which had pushed all of Saturday’s races to the following day. The competitors launched into the French course without hesitation, with no signs of holding back for a warm-up lap.
Gery, the French favourite, immediately established a gap, leaving behind the top contender Cat Ferguson, who is confirmed for Movistar on the road starting in late 2024, who kept Gery within sight but couldn’t keep pace. Meanwhile, the Belgian hopeful Shanyl De Schoesitter was initially in contention for third place but eventually fell behind.
As the race unfolded, Slovakia’s Viktória Chladonová emerged as a fierce competitor, steadily working her way through the field and overtaking for the third spot. However, by this point, Gery had stretched her lead substantially.
The silver medal became a close contest when Chladonová, the only rider not to lose time to Gery throughout the race, caught up with Britain’s Ferguson in the third lap. De Schoesitter’s prospects of a medal faded by the third lap, trailing the leader by 1’12” and around fifty seconds behind the duo vying for silver.
In the final lap, it was Ferguson who managed to overcome the Slovakian competitor. This struggle for second place unfolded far behind Gery, who celebrated a solo victory on home soil. It was a less successful day for De Schoesitter, who lost ground towards the end of the race, finishing eleventh, more than three minutes behind Gery.
Gery’s early move in the race set the tone for a day where she would reign supreme, with Britain’s Ferguson and Slovakia’s Chladonová rounding off the podium places. After the Belgian De Schoesitter dropped back, Ferguson was joined in pursuit by Chladonová, with a larger group forming behind them including the Dutch rider Puck Langenbarg and De Schoesitter.
Gery’s dominance was clear as she crossed the finish line with a considerable lead over Ferguson, who managed to secure second place ahead of Chladonová. Langenbarg finished as the best Dutch competitor in tenth place, while De Schoesitter ended up just outside the top ten. Considering the dominance of those countries in cyclocross, it’s quite interesting to see how well France, Great Britain and in particular Slovakia did today.
2023 Cyclocross European Championship Women Juniors result
Results powered by FirstCycling.com
Main photo credit: Cor Vos