Pieterse wins the duel with Ferrand-Prevot to win the XCO World Cup in Nove Mesto
Pieterse took the victory in the XCO World Cup in Nove Mesto after a top-level duel with Ferrand-Prevot that lasted until the last lap. Lecomte took third place and Richards was fourth, although the British rider suffered a flat tyre and a chain failure that deprived her of fighting for the victory.
Pieterse wins in Nove Mesto after an uncontested attack on the last lap
Pieterse, Richards, Neff were in the leading positions after the start. Van Empel had a great start, and despite coming from 33rd place, she was third when the clock counted only four minutes into the race.
However, it was Batten who went up a gear in the early stages to open a 5-second gap with her pursuers, led by Frei and Richards.
After the Start Loop, the first full lap started with Batten at the front, but quickly the little train of riders coming from behind managed to catch her and put an end to the American's premature breakaway.
The lead was formed by this trio, while the other riders followed a few seconds behind. Richards pushed the pace and pulled 3 seconds ahead of Batten and 6 seconds ahead of Frei.
The British rider continued to push to close the lap with a 14-second lead. Pieterse took on the burden of leading the chasing group, which then consisted of six riders. Alongside the Dutchwoman were Batten-Frei-Ferrand Prevot-Berta-Henderson.
Pieterse broke away on his own to chase Richards. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider took 13 seconds off the rest of the group, while Richards was 15 seconds ahead midway through the third lap.
The group behind Pieterse began to disintegrate gradually, with Batten suffering a flat tyre and Ferrand-Prevot asserting her rainbow jersey and gaining some advantage over the rest.
Richards opened the fourth lap with a gap of 10 seconds, narrower than she had ever had before. Pieterse's effort was wasted, but she still saw Ferrand-Prevot catch her and the versatile French rider took over the lead in the chase.
Both riders continued to ride hard, but the gap to Richards increased to 16 seconds.
Richards' flat tyre wiped out all the advantage she had built up during the 40-minute race. Bad luck struck when she came out of the technical assistance area and the chain came off. Incidents that caused her to lose vital seconds and left her in seventh position, 7 seconds behind the leaders.
Pieterse took the first place and Ferrand-Prevot stayed behind her. That's how they reached the new finish line. Behind, Lecomte was 10 seconds behind and Henderson 15 seconds behind.
The Dutchwoman attacked. 5 seconds. But Ferrand-Prevot caught her wheel again soon after. The European Champion continued to reduce the gap to the leading pair, who looked closer and closer.
The race then entered a period of relative calm. Lecomte lost time and came in 19 seconds behind at the finish line, Keller and Henderson followed and Richards came in sixth place but failed to cut seconds off the leaders.
Penultimate lap. Ferrand-Prevot's move to leave Pieterse 7 seconds behind.
The Frenchwoman pushed hard to maintain that gap throughout the lap. A distance that visually was much less when the circuit sloped upwards and they were forced to ride slower.
Last lap. 8 seconds between Ferrand-Prevot and Pieterse. Lecomte third, 10 seconds behind the Dutchwoman. And when the positions seemed to be quite settled, Pieterse pulled out strength from where it seemed that there was no more left to hook on to the rear wheel of the world champion.
Tense calm. And a devastating attack by Pieterse, who in a few meters gained a couple of seconds on Ferrand-Prevot. The final climb left Pieterse with even more of a gap, enough to reach the finish line with some peace of mind.
And so came Pieterse to win the first race of the XCO World Cup ahead of Ferrand-Prevot. Lecomte was third and Richards came in fourth and showed that if she had not suffered that incident she would have been a clear contender for the victory.
Results XCO Nove Mesto 2023 World Cup - Women's
- Puck Pieterse 1:23'01"
- Pauline Ferrand-Prevot +5"
- Loana Lecomte +11"
- Evie Richards +16"
- Alessandra Keller +38"
- Anne Terpstra +38"
- Caroline Bohé +39"
- Rebecca Henderson +56"
- Sina Frei +1'09"
- Martina Berta +1'42"