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Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) proved best in a wet and wild edition of World Cup Hulst.
Pieterse scored her second World Cup victory in a row in a race that pivoted on a heavy crash from archrival Fem Van Empel.
Series-dominator Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and on-form Pieterse had been locked together in the third lap when the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal ace crashed hard at the base of a tricky descent.
The 20-year-old was forced to stop, straighten out her bars, remount her chain, and nurse a malfunctioning rear mech through to the pits.
“I started really fast and got a gap but Fem closed it in the second or third lap,” Pieterse said.
“When she overtook she crashed and her derailleur was in crash mode so her bike was a bit fucked, so I got a few seconds there and then I just had to push with my own effort.”
— UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup (@UCIcyclocrossWC) November 27, 2022
Pieterse forged her winning margin while Van Empel suffered through her disastrous third circuit. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Pieterse, who also went on to crash a handful of times in the increasingly tricky conditions in a boggy, technical course.
Pieterse later admitted Van Empel’s misfortune may have made the difference as her nemesis went on to time trial into second-place, more than 40 seconds back.
Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) finished third at 1:47 in a race that came down to getting lucky and staying upright.
“It was such a hard one with all the climbing, I felt Fem was stronger in that part,” Pieterse said. “So I got a bit lucky today with Fem’s crash – otherwise we would have been in a battle for first and second.”
Pieterse’s second World Cup victory in eight days sees her closing the gap in the standings on series-leader Van Empel ahead of next weekend’s race in Antwerp.
“For sure I’m really happy about this one,” Pieterse said.
Results powered by FirstCycling.com