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Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) dominated the elite women’s race from start to finish to win the mid-week Superprestige Diegem on Wednesday.
In what was a nearly flawless performance, Pieterse soloed to the win ahead of Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) in second at 30 seconds back and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) in third at 1:02.
How it unfolded
The second day of cyclocross racing in a row this week after Superprestige Heusden-Zolder, won by Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck), at the Superprestige Diegem.
Alvarado and her Alpecin-Deceuninck teammate Puck Pieterse took off onto the highly-technical and well-lit circuit that was held in the darkness of the early evening in front of hundreds of local fans.
Pieterse, with five wins out of 12 race starts, opened an early lead on the first lap as the field behind powered through the mud in a heated chase.
Inge van der Heijden (777) raced through the end of the first lap at 16 seconds back, followed by Alvarado at 17 seconds back, Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) at 19 seconds, Kata Vas (SD Worx) at 24 seconds and Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) at 26 seconds.
On lap two, new chasers Betsema and Alvarado reconnected along the circuit as Zoe Backstedt (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) desperately tried to close the gap.
Racing through the start of the third lap, Pieterse maintained a 10-second lead ahead of lone chaser Van Anrooij, who almost flawlessly glided along the trickier sections of the circuit.
Twenty-four seconds back, Alvarado and Van der Heijden settled into a two-rider rhythm while Betsema struggled to stay with the pair, riding in the fifth position. And slightly further back the trio of Vas, Backstedt and Silvia Persico (Valcar Travel & Service).
The wind picked up, creating added difficulty to the race, but Pieterse pushed her lead out ever so slightly, making it even harder for Van Anrooij to completely close the gap that hovered at seven seconds. However, the next chase groups continued to lose time, racing at further 30 seconds back.
As Pieterse held her blistering pace, Van Anrooij appeared to show signs of fatigue when the gap opened to 13 seconds with one lap to go.
On the last lap, Pieterse celebrated her sixth win of the season,…