February 14, 2021
By virtue of her 5th place finish today, Lucinda Brand has completed the amazing "grand slam" of cyclocross for2020/21, winning each of the 3 major cyclocross series overall titles, plus the one-day UCI world championship, all in the same season.
Let's take a look at how she got here and how these victories fit into the historical context.
The X²O Badkamers was perhaps the series title that was most in doubt. This series is unusual in that the overall title is based on total time, not points. Entering the final day at the Brussels Universities course, Brand led Denise Betsema by a slim 41 seconds.
Sure enough, Betsema escaped, ultimately finishing second on the day and putting Brand's overall title in doubt. Brand seemed to be struggling with ice clogging her cleats, preventing her from clipping in to the pedals and finished an uncharacteristic 5th, 37 seconds down from winner Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado.
In the end Brand crossed the line 31 seconds behind Betsema, preserving her X²O Badkamers overall title.
The 2020/21 Elite women's Superprestige overall title was a season-long battle between Brand and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado. Alvarado jumped out to an early season lead, but Brand crushed the middle of the calendar, winning 5 races in a row at one point.
Alvarado made it close in the end, but ultimately Brand prevailed here as well, with 114 points compared to 112 on the season.
Brand put the World Cup series away early, winning the first 3 races of the 5 race shortened calendar. It's hard to say what could have happened had 6 World Cup days not been cancelled due to the pandemic, but Brand prevailed here as well, with only Alvarado coming close to striking distance, the outcome was never really in doubt.
In a season in which she was already dominant elsewhere, Brand stamped her authority on the rest of the Elite women's field by winning the sandy, cold World Championship in Ostende, Belgium.
Only Annemarie Worst could make it close, but crashed at a critical moment and Brand soloed to the win. She'll sport the world championship jersey in what is hopefully a full, "normal" 2021-22 cyclocross season starting this Fall.
This level of domination across the entire length of the season, with such consistency is exceedingly rare. Brand has been able to keep her race form for many months, only appearing to slow much in the last two (mostly inconsequential) races of the season.
March 02, 2021
February 26, 2021