British cyclocross champion Nikki Brammeier returned to racing this weekend following a six-week crash-related break. Wasting no time finding her race legs, Brammeier opted for a double race weekend. Having raced to ninth on Saturday in Essen, Brammeier lined up for very muddy Duivencross Overjise on Sunday where she fought to fourth place. It’s safe to say: she’s back!
“I had an okay start but got caught behind a crash midway through the opening lap,” said Brammeier. “That’s when Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF) and Ellen van Loy (Telenet –Fidea) got a gap.”
De Boer and Van Loy rode away from the start, never to be seen again. Brammeier got caught a little behind and was left to chase for the podium.
“Just like yesterday, I felt better throughout the race,” said Brammeier, who came on strong in the final two laps.
Saturday’s winner Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm Beobank) was not having her best day in Overijse, struggling for fifth behind Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) and Alice Arzuffi (Guerciotti-Selle Italia). Both Cant and Brand crashed heavily during the race and although Brammeier was looking forward to a muddy race, she also saw the mud from a little too close.
“I crashed pretty heavy just after Lucinda on the road. That’s when Jolien Verschueren (Telenet-Fidea) managed to close the gap to us,” Brammeier explained. “I got up, rode a lap around to the pits and changed my bike as the gears weren’t shifting properly. I worked my way back up after that and felt strong in the last lap. That’s when I got myself to fourth.”
Brand was looking good for third until a last lap mechanical took her out of contention. Brand’s misforunte allowed Verschueren moved up to secure the final spot on the podium while Brammeier was left to battle it out with Arzuffi for fourth.
“I came past Arzuffi in the last lap once I got my rhythm back after the crash and bike change,” Brammeier continued. “By that point, the race for the podium was over, but I couldn’t be happier with how this weekend has gone. If you had said to me even this time last week I would have been able to do a double race weekend, I would have questioned it.”
With her confidence back, Brammeier looks forward to racing the rest of the 2016-2017 season. But first, she’ll fly out to Spain for a short stay at the first Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team training camp.
“I fly to Calpe tomorrow to meet the team for team photos,” noted Brammeier. “I fly back on Wednesday evening but hopefully get some riding in the sunshine, then get stuck into another double weekend.”
The Scheldecross in Antwerpen is on the program for next Saturday, which is part of the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee, with the Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup race in Namur on Sunday.