World Cup leader Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado battled with Puck Pieterse on the final lap of Saturday’s eleventh round of the World Cup on a fast course in Hulst, the Netherlands, but it would be Puck earning her second World Cup round in five days. It was the first time this season that Pieterse beat her great rival, world champion Fem van Empel, fourth on Saturday. Alvarado bolstered her lead at the top of the series table with three rounds to go. Ava Holmgren punched the air when she crossed the finish line, the top Canadian in 14th.
The World Cup Situation Before Saturday
After 10 rounds three round winner Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado led brace winner Lucinda Brand by 70 points.
The Canadian contingent was Isabella and Ava Holmgren, Rafaelle Carrier, Aislin Hallahan, Lily Rose Marois, Siobhan Kelly, Nico Knoll, Maude Ruelland, Christiane Bilodeau, and Madeleine Pollack.
Marie Schreiber, a fast starter, seized the hole shot on Lap 1. Pieterse pushed by her next to the pits. Alvarado didn’t have a good start. Pieterse led Brand through the windmill. On the long carry up a bank, van Empel became the closest pursuer. Pieterse finished the first 3-km lap in 8:34, van Empel trailing by 10 seconds and Brand 14 seconds back. Ava Holmgren was 18th.
By the start of Lap 2 of 6, Alvarado raced in fourth place, joining Brand and van Empel before the end of the circuit. The chase trio was 16 seconds in arrears. Ava Holmgren was still in 18th and her sister Isabella rolled at 31st.
The World Cup leader took over pacemaking in the chase on Lap 3. Van Empel and Brand crossed paths after a steep downhill and the world champion went down. Pieterse’s gap was 22 seconds at the midpoint of the race, van Empel still trying to catch up with Alavarado and Brand. Ava Holmgren was up to 16th and twin Isabella was 29th.
On Lap 4, Brand started to chip away at Pieterse’s gap, Alvarado lagging a little, but the two reunited before the line. Van Empel was still in Position 4. Holmgren was still 16th, just ahead of Denise Betsema.
The penultimate lap finished and the situation was as-you-were. Van Empel looked frustrated in not being able to rejoin Brand and Alvarado. Brand started to put real estate between herself and Alvarado.
The bell lap was frantic, as a bobble early in the circuit pulled the chasers closer to Puck. Alvarado…