How Lucinda Brand rode away from everyone, including the World Champ

Lucinda Brand and World Champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado traded wheels throughout Sunday’s fourth round Superprestige series race in Merksplas, but Brand appeared to make a critical error on the second-to-last lap. After riding well in the sandpit throughout the race, she finally got stuck, and was forced to pick up her bike and run as Alvarado zoomed past.

Brand didn’t give up on the race, however, and clawed back to Alvarado’s wheel. That resilience paid off when Alvarado made a fatigue-induced mistake of her own and crashed in the mud on the final lap. Brand weaved around, and opened up the decisive gap. She’d cruise to a second straight win in the Superprestige series to pull within one point (56 total) of Alvarado on the overall standings.

Alvarado, who won the first two races of the series, finished third on the stage after falling a second time on the final lap, allowing Denise Betsema to take second place.

After the race, Brand said she felt “fresh and strong” even after her near-fiasco in the sand.

“It was a fast, slippery course, and I had a good start. I tried to set the pace high all the time to make sure that nobody had time to recover,” Brand said. “I did all I could to ride as fast as possible, and luckily I was back with Alvarado. She made a mistake, so I could profit from that.”

The wet conditions created a low margin of error throughout the field. Brand was largely riding against herself for most of the final lap, maintaining pace while desperately trying to avoid a slip-up that could help her rivals come back. She was able to roll across the line sitting up, six seconds ahead of Betsema.

“I’m very happy of course with this second victory in the Superprestige,” Brand said. “I hope I can keep this good luck for the coming weeks.”

Brand and Alvarado are now locked in a tight duel to win the Superprestige series with four more races to go. Annemarie Worst, who finished fourth in Merksplas, is in third place overall at 51 points — five behind Brand and six behind Alvarado. The next race in the series will be Dec. 6 in Boom.