The first race of the weekend in Dübendorf was also the very first of its type in cyclocross history; a chance for the Junior Women to claim World Championship medals. Among the top favorites were two American riders. Madigan Munro of the Boulder Juniors program and Lizzy Gunsalus of the Cannondale p/b Cyclocross World development squad.
The upside of being in the first race on the first day was that the riders had the best weather conditions. The sun was out and the track was relatively fast, allowing nearly all the riders to complete four full laps. At my first shooting position, near the start of the long berm, Gunsalus and Munro were at the head of the race in 3rd and 6th place respectively.
At the halfway point in the race Munro had passed her teammate and was in the bronze medal position. Gunsalus was holding on to 7th/8th position riding in good company near eventual 5th place finisher Fem van Empel. Having taken the hole shot, Shirin Anrooij was now well off the front with a lead of over 30 seconds to her teammate Puck Pieterse.
As the race neared its conclusion Van Anrooij’s gap to her chasers continued to grow but at a much lower rate compared with her first laps. She finished 53 seconds up on Pieterse, 1:18 up on Munro and more than two minutes faster than 5th place, Fem van Empel.
With the first ever Junior Women CX Worlds race comes the first ever Junior Women CX Worlds podium. And the first ever U.S. junior woman on a Worlds podium. Overall this was a great debut for this category. I was a bit nervous before the start that the riders would be subjected to an unnecessarily short race but the final race time was right where it should have been with only two riders pulled and the last rider on the lead lap coming in at 50:31. After seeing the size of some of the fields in the women’s races at the World Cups this year, it was obviously past time for this category to have its own race.
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