Felipe Orts and Laura Verdonschot win at Melgaço

Spanish rider Felipe Orts of Burgos-BH and Belgian athlete Laura Verdonschot from De Ceuster-Bonache clinched victories in the elite races at the first round of the Taça de Portugal de Ciclocrosse in Melgaço. Nearly 300 riders graced the muddy tracks as the rain lent an authentic touch to what is considered the crowning discipline of the winter cycling season.

Felipe Orts arrived in Minho as a favourite, bolstered by his top 10 position in the global cyclocross rankings. Despite facing setbacks in two prior races in Galicia, he was determined to seize the day. Orts made his intentions clear early on, breaking away from the pack. His Dutch rival, Jens Dekker of the Orange Babies Cycling Team, kept pace but eventually fell short. Orts ultimately triumphed with a 26-second lead over Dekker. Kevin Suárez of Nesta-MMR CX Team rounded out the podium, finishing third, 1 minute and 21 seconds behind Orts. Among the Portuguese contenders, young talent Rafael Sousa of Guilhabreu MTB claimed the 11th spot, trailing by 5 minutes and 10 seconds.

On the women’s side, Laura Verdonschot left no room for doubt. Her performance mirrored her recent victory in the Ciclocrosse Internacional de Ribadumia in Galicia. She broke away early, commanding the race from the front and finishing 20 seconds ahead of Spanish rider Lucia González of Nesta-MMR CX Team. Sofia Rodríguez, also from Nesta-MMR CX Team, secured the third spot, 56 seconds behind Verdonschot. Ana Santos from X-Sauce Factory Team was the highest Portuguese finisher, coming in seventh, 4 minutes and 25 seconds off the leader’s pace.

The race circuit this year featured upgrades from its inaugural 2022 edition. Noteworthy additions to the course included a heart-shaped dirt section and two climbs, making for a technically demanding race. Verdonschot’s consistent performance this season solidifies her standing, especially after victories in Gijón and Pontevedra.

Further down the categories, Julie Brouwers of Circus RE UZ Technord snatched the U23 leader’s position. Other notable performances included Marta Beti and Andrea Velasco of Río Miera Cantabria Deporte, who completed the U23 podium. This venue will also host the Spanish Championships in January 2025, where weather conditions could present a stark contrast to the relatively mild climate witnessed this year.

Men’s 2023 Melgaço result

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Women’s 2023 Melgaço result

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