Puck Pieterse continues to be unstoppable and also wins the European Championship
Pieterse once again performed well enough to win the 2023 European Championships. The Dutchwoman won the continental jersey in a race that she dominated without hesitation from the start and where no one was able to shadow her. Mitterwallner came from behind to take second place, while the bronze went to Frei.
Pietersei in top form takes gold at the European Championships 2023 in Poland
The fight for the European title started without incident under a bright sun, the best ally to dry the parts of the track that the rains of the previous days had made muddy. Stigger took the lead for the first few meters, with Pieterse and Ferrand-Prevot following in his wake.
The Dutchwoman took the lead when the first three riders had already opened a gap. Puck slipped without consequences in one of the areas that were still wet. The incident caused her to lose the lead for a moment, before regaining it shortly afterwards and opening a gap of about 10 seconds.
Frei and Mitterwallner joined Ferrand-Prevot and Stigger in the chase. Even so, Pieterse closed the first lap with a cushion that had already increased to 15 seconds. Behind, the chasing group, made up of Ferrand-Prevot, Neff, Frei, Terpstra, Stigger, Indergang, Koller, was sweating to stop the bleeding of seconds.
Pieterse rode at a pace that no one else could follow to increase the income and gain ground to conquer the most coveted metal. Still with a lot of race ahead it was time to put the head down and keep working, although the strength of the Dutchwoman seemed to put her on the way to the top step of the podium.
The chasing group was blown apart and each rider went for success on her own. Neff was the most outstanding rider and she put in a powerful pedal stroke that put her just 11 seconds behind the lead at the new finish line.
Frei was 25 seconds behind the leader, while Ferrand-Prevot, Terpstra, Stigger and Indergang followed at some distance. However, the Swiss rider's relative tranquility in third position was soon broken when Mitterwallner and Ferrand-Prevot came on her wheel.
Mitterwallner caught Neff —who fell between Frei and Ferrand-Prevot— and broke away with the aim of extending his comeback and catching Pieterse, who continued to rule with authority.
Penultimate lap. Pieterse was 24 seconds ahead of Mitterwallner, 47 seconds ahead of Neff and Ferrand-Prevot and 57 seconds ahead of Stigger. Still, the Austrian pushed hard to make contact with the two riders just in front of her.
Mitterwallner stabilized the gap to Pieterse and at times seemed to be getting closer, but then the gap was restored. After her, the trio separated and Ferrand-Prevot was left in third position with 5 seconds over Frei and 21 seconds with Neff.
Last lap with almost everything decided already. The race went smoothly for the leader, who pedaled with a pace that kept away any chance of Mitterwallner to catch her.
The Dutchwoman was consuming the last kilometers to reach the finish line with the smile of one who knows she is the winner of the European Championship. A result that adds to her spectacular season and that once again confirms that she is called to be one of the references of cycling in the coming years.
Mitterwallner took silver in a race in which she had to come from behind and was the only one to ride in similar times to Pieterse. Frei closed the metals with third place.
For her part, Ferrand-Prevot sank to eighteenth place, but it is not known whether she suffered a mechanical failure or just ran out of steam.
Results European XCO Championships 2023 Poland - Women's
- Puck Pieterse 1:18'26"
- Mona Mitterwallner +26"
- Sina Frei +1'05"
- Jolanda Neff +1'20"
- Loana Lecomte +1'37"
- Anne Terpstra +1'39"
- Caroline Bohé +1'51"
- Steffi Haberln +2'48"