Maghalie Rochette is back racing in Europe again, and on Sunday’s third round of the UCI World Cup, she came in 13th, matching the 13th she posted in Saturday’s Niel round of the Superprestige series. With World Cup leader Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse not racing Dendermonde, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado won in a canter, posting victories on consecutive days. She has had three victories and not finished off the podium in her eight 2023-2024 season races. Lucinda Brand was runner up on Sunday, a fine return from injury.
Inge van der Heijden nabbed the hole shot on Lap 1. Brand took over the front, with Rochette fourth. Alvarado grabbed the reins as Rochette lost a few spots. Crashing in the sand put her back even further. Alvarado finished the first 2.65-km lap in 8:58 with Brand 14 seconds behind. Rochette was 14th.
The course was muddy enough that there was a lot of running and a lot of bike changes. On Lap 2 Alvarado increased her lead over Brand to 43 seconds. Brand was 15 seconds ahead of a group of five that contained Zoe Backstedt, Manon Bakker and Marion Norbert Riberolle.
On Lap 3 of 6, Bakker and Riberolle, both Crelan-Corendon riders, found themselves trailing Backstedt. Brand was +0:47 at the midway point. Rochette worked from Position 14.
At the beginning of the bell lap, Rochette was 14th, but she fought her was up to 13th, keeping her time under an hour. Brand stabilized the gap to Alvarado and finished 37 seconds in arrears. Backstedt clung tenaciously to her third spot to earn her first elite World Cup podium.
The next round is next Sunday in Troyes, France.
2023-2024 UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Round 3, Dendermonde
1) Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Deceuninck) 55:45
2) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Baloise Trek Lions) +0:37
3) Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain/Canyon-SRAM) +1:35
13) Maghalie Rochette (Canada) +3:58