Puck Pieterse launched into the elite mountain bike ranks at full speed on Sunday in Nove Mesto. The Dutch cyclocross specialist held off world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot to win in her first elite World Cup appearance.
Canadians in Czech Republic
Jenn Jackson (Liv Factory Racing) led the Canadians in the elite women’s race, finishing 35th in Nove Mesto. Sandra Walter (Liv Canada) followed in 66th, Cindy Montambault (Project Dialed-In) 76th and Laurie Arseneault (Pittstop Racing) 87th.
Pieterse announces her arrival
Puck Pieterse (Alpecin Fenix) put the field on notice early in the race, taking the hole shot and leading early in the start loop. The 21-year-old Dutch rider is among the ranks of top cyclocrossers that are expanding into road and mountain bike with great success. The Alpecin-Fenix racer already has a fifth at Strade Bianchi and a second at elite cyclocross world champs to her name this year, and is clearly looking to add a mountain bike result to that race resume. After a successful under-23 mountain bike season last year, she looks comfortable taking the race to the elites in Nove Mesto, in her first elite mountain bike World Cup. Fem van Empel, another Dutch cross racer, also shows up on the front of the race early on.
It isn’t long before established elite powerhouses Haley Batten (Specialized Factory Racing), Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing), Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Ineos Grenadiers) and Rebecca Henderson (Primaflor Mondraker), join on the front.
Still on the start loop before the first full lap, Batten gets an early gap, with Richards drawn out of the group in pursuit. Ferrand-Prévot has a little bobble on her new Pinarello and drops back slightly.
Evie Richards takes over the lead on lap 2. Batten falls back as Pieterse, Sina Frei (Specialized Factory Racing), Ferrand-Prévot and Martina Berta (Santa Cruz) formed a chase group behind.
Richards gap moves up to maximum 16 seconds during the third lap. On the start of the fourth lap, though, Ferrand-Prévot joined Pieterse to take up the chase.
One lap later, disaster strikes. Richards roll into the tech zone with a nearly flat tire. Ferrand-Prévot and Pieterse, and several others, roll by while Richards is standing and waiting…
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