Christine Majerus managed fifth place in the first mudder of the 2016/2017 cyclocross season. The Luxembourg champion took the holeshot at Superprestige Ruddervoorde on Sunday and rode with a leading group of four on lap one before losing ground due to a self-proclaimed equipment choice error.
“I was a little bit too optimistic today concerning the weather,” said Majerus. “During my recon, I rode well with intermediate tires, and the course was fairly smooth, but it started raining pretty hard during my warm-up. The rain changed the terrain, but I stuck with my initial tire choice – and I learned pretty quickly that it wasn’t the best choice.”
Technical even without rain, the course in Ruddervoorde served up plenty of challenges. Each lap included multiple flyovers, off-camber sections, short sharp climbs and descents, and a sandpit. The obstacles translated into repeated dismounts and remounts during a single lap.
Majerus charged off the start line to take the holeshot with Sophie de Boer (Kalas-H.Essers-NNOF) and Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) in her slipstream. Rounding the first corner, Majerus pushed the pace in an attempt to open early gaps.
“I had the perfect start,” said Majerus. “I try to focus on having clean starts because for my mind it’s so much more motivating to fight with the best then to have to catch up to them.”
Midway through the first lap, Van Loy took over the race lead. De Boer and Majerus made up the first chase with Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm-Beobank) trailing by a handful of seconds. De Boer went on to distance Majerus before the sandpit, making contact with Van Loy, as Cant used the sand to make gains on Majerus.
De Boer and Van Loy led over the first passage of the finish line with a five-second gap on Cant and a nine-second gap on Majerus.
“It was fun sliding around in the mud, but I was clearly disadvantaged compared to the others on mud tires,” said Majerus. “I tried to make the best of it. All in all, it was a good performance.”
De Boer used the second lap to gap Van Loy. A six second advantage at the mid-point of the race stretched out to nearly a minute by the end of the four-lap race, which saw Cant and Van Loy battle it out for the second spot on the podium.
A bobble and a small crash by Van Loy saw Cant snag second. Alice Arzuffi (Selle Italia Guerciotti) soloed to the finish 10-seconds ahead of Majerus.
“Because I was behind technically by lap four, my goal was to keep my position,” said Majerus. “Fifth was what I could do today. I think I got the best I could out of myself given my choices and the conditions. I learned some lessons for next time, and I’m optimistic about my fitness.”