Pieterse prevails in snow of Val di Sole
Saturday 17 December 2022
A white carpet of snow, we don’t see that often during the cyclo-cross season, but we did in Italy’s Val di Sole. There, the riders were able to show their skills on the ice. The technically strong Pieterse did so with bravura and she triumphed after a nice solo.
The Italian champion, Silvia Persico, immediately displayed her Italian colours in the snow of Val di Sole as she was first to take the snowy field. But a bend later she suffered a slip together with Puck Pieterse which also hampered World Cup leader Fem van Empel.
Ceylin Alvarado made the fewest mistakes and was thus able to immediately take a considerable lead on Marie Schreiber, the closest rider. Van Empel had less luck due to the delay in the first bend and because of that missed start she was left to chase.
Alvarado, of course, did not wait and she finished the first lap flawlessly with a good lead over the new chasers Pieterse and Persico. That duo was able to close the gap on Alvarado entering the second lap, giving us three leaders. Manon Bakker followed in fourth place, ten seconds behind. In the meantime, the young Pieterse took over the lead from Alvarado and pushed strongly for the first time.
Meanwhile, news came from behind in the field that Van Empel had fallen hard against a post. She remained on the ground and could not continue her race. A little later, she was taken away on a stretcher to the first aid post. Alvarado, too, did not remain faultless and went down in the snow. A few seconds later, Persico also made a slide on the same climb which allowed Pieterse to ride away.
But even the fine technical rider that Pieterse is could not prevent her from making a slide. That slide did not, however, affect her lead which had gone up to 16 seconds at the start of the third lap. Chasing behind were Alvarado and Persico who were playing leapfrog. But it was Alvarado proving to be the technically stronger one of the two and after another fall by Persico, she was able to break away from the Italian for good.
The rest of the field was stretched out behind and the mistakes began to pile up for Persico. A strong Manon Bakker was riding in fourth place which would be her best result of the season. However, due to Persico’s series of falls, Bakker suddenly also gained sight of third place and it became an exciting duel for the final podium spot in the last lap.
Pieterse, meanwhile, rode flawlessly to victory and could crown herself ice queen of the day. Alvarado was able to take second place and, after another fall by Persico in the final bend, the Italian still lost her third place to an overjoyed Bakker. Van Empel remains leader in the standings even though she had to leave the race. The European Champion still has a nice lead.