Norbert-Riberolle beats Van Alphen in Otegem with late move

Marion Norbert-Riberolle Otegem 2023

Marion Norbert-Riberolle put aside her disappointment of not truly contesting the Belgian national championships the day before by winning the Betafence Cyclocross in Otegem today. Heading over the West Flanders, Norbert-Riberolle looked destined to finish 2nd behind Aniek van Alphen until the Dutch rider hit empty halfway through the final lap. Clawing back the gap, Norbert-Riberolle was able to come past to take the win and the…interesting prize of a lawnmower.

Denise Betsema finished 3rd despite being the pre-race favourite. She’s having a tough period of races at the moment which she puts down to overtraining. So in some ways, it’s a surprise to see her race the Dutch nationals and then be here in Otegem the next day as well. Most of the biggest names of the current cyclocross season weren’t there but the new U23 Dutch champion Leonie Bentveld and Alicia Franck were expected to challenge as well.

Betsema started the race fast and was the first off the start straight and into the off-road stuff. As she powered on, only Norbert-Riberolle, Van Alphen and Bentveld were able to keep with the pace on the first lap. As the 2nd lap progressed, Bentveld was distanced as Betsema kept up the pace in the rain. The race turned on its lap on lap 3 when Norbert-Riberolle upped the pace. No longer in control at the front, Betsema was unable to keep up and began to ship time and distance to the now lead pair.

On the penultimate lap, Norbert-Riberolle slid out and got stuck in the barriers. It looked like Van Alphen’s race to lose with her rival seemingly out of contention. As the riders crossed the finish line for the final lap, the gap between them was 8 seconds. It seemed enough as Norbert-Riberolle dropped a little from the effort of trying to make the catch the lap before. That helped make the race finale even more exciting as Van Alphen just bled time in the last part of the final lap. Marion Norbert-Riberolle caught and then accelerated, dropping Van Alphen comfortably before the finish line to take the win on home soil.

“The cross was just half a lap too long. Marion was really the strongest today. She made a mistake with two laps to go, but she managed to reconnect in the final lap. I knew then that it was going to be a tough story. The last sections on the course were really suitable for Marion. I certainly hadn’t given up yet, but the cross just took half a lap too long. I’ve been valued today. It was a fun battle. Of course, I would have liked to win myself, but a second place is certainly not bad. The course was really tough, especially the last part towards the pits. It was really a blast there, and Marion is very good at that.”

Aniek van Alphen

Betafence Otegem 2023 Results

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