Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado took her 3rd win of the 2022/23 cyclocross season at Heusden-Zolder – all of which have come in the Superprestige series. Alvarado still finds herself 2nd place overall though, with Denise Betsema’s consistency putting her just 1 point ahead after Alvarado had a poor result in the last round in Boom. In Heusden-Zolder, Alvarado was able to win solo, distancing her last rival Inge van der Heijden on the penultimate lap.
The relentless Christmas period cyclocross calendar pushes on, with Heusden-Zolder taking place the day after a brutal course in the World Cup race at Gavere. Those who didn’t race there appeared to have the fresher legs here. The Superprestige series has given the likes of Betsema, Alvarado and Van der Heijden something to realistically aim for after Van Empel and Pieterse have dominated the World Cup events this season.
Amandine Fouquenet got off to the best start from the second row on the grid but was quickly overtaken by the favourites Alvarado and Betsema. The latter did her trademark riding at the front in the early part of the race, trying to force a split of what was then a large group. It included Van der Heijden, Persico, Alvarado, Worst, Norbert-Riberolle, Van Alphen, Brand and Betsema.
The elastic began stretching with micro gaps beginning to appear in the group and once Alvarado accelerated on the 3rd lap, the gaps started to become more permanent. Van der Heijden was able to go with her but the likes of Betsema, Brand and Persico were distanced. By the penultimate lap, Van der Heijden was also unable to keep up with the pace of Alvarado and was distanced too.
Brand finished strongly but wasn’t quite able to catch Van der Heijden. Persico managed to beat Betsema to the line, with the Italian now gearing up for the World Championships and more likely to be seen in these sorts of races compared to the early part of the season. For Betsema, it was her worst result in the Superprestige series but she hangs onto the GC lead by a single point with 3 races to go.
“I really had to get into the race. The first two laps were quite difficult for me and I was on the limit. At every corner there were always riders who just tried to squeak for it, so I had to close a gap later. When the holes were finally a bit bigger and I could set the pace myself, it went better and better. Until I was the strongest left at the end.
I really wanted to work with Inge. She was also very strong, but had to let go at one point. Then I had no choice but to ride on my own to the line.”Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado
“I didn’t have the best start in my opinion, but luckily I was able to move up quickly in the equipment post. I had a very good day, which was surprising after the difficult cross in Gavere. I know from Ceylin that she can always do a little more in the last lap. I certainly didn’t want to give up, but Ceylin was clearly the strongest. In the final I had to give everything to keep Lucinda behind me. Second was the highest possible today and I am very happy with that.”Inge van der Heijden
“I am still satisfied with my race. I was unable to move up during the cross. In addition, I was always held up on the hills. I ended up resting on the asphalt every time. That’s really fun. I just didn’t have the legs to move on. It is also difficult on this track to really pass someone, since the level in cyclocross is so high. I would have liked to see it without all the delays, but I am otherwise satisfied with my race.”Lucinda Brand
“It went OK. I am happy with this fourth place, especially because it was my first cross on Belgian soil. Tomorrow there will be another cross and then I will go for the podium again. I just need to believe in it a little more.”Silvia Persico
“I actually felt really good today, but unfortunately I made a mistake on the climb in the woods. I lost the connection and couldn’t get it closed again. The other girls didn’t ride along either, and I understand that too. I am in the lead in the Superprestige. So I have to fix it myself.
I am a bit disappointed, but a consolation prize is that I am just in the lead. There’s another race tomorrow and it should suit me a bit better. This is especially a nice learning process. On to the next cross!”Denise Betsema
Superprestige Heusden-Zolder 2022 Results
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