We woke up quite early, only to see that it’s snowing. The concept of winter tyres on cars seem to have avoided the Belgians, we saw all sorts of cars skidding and sliding cluelessly. It is both annoying and dangerous, however, with winter tyres on, it still took longer to get there, due to the heavy snowfall. We arrived there around noon and the elite men were already training for their race.
The teams were preparing for the upcoming race in the heavy snowfall.
I like taking these portraits before races. Most photographers doesn’t seem to care, but I’m fascinated how differently each rider prepares for the race. Some of them are just smiling or having a chat whilst others are trying to concentrate on the upcoming effort and to cut out the external disturbing factors. Daphny Van Den Brand was definitely doing the latter.
Normally, I don’t stay at the start area to take photos of the start itself, this time I stayed and saw as Van Den Brand took a good start. The start straight was very long which allowed the riders to reach pretty high speeds which was quite impressive in conditions like these.
Quite close to the start area, there was a short flight of stairs. It was packed with other photographers so I didn’t want to go up there. I liked the angle, as the riders were cornering. This was the first lap, it saw Van Den Brand in the lead.
Marianne Vos was trailing behind, but the difference was marginal which promised an interesting race. Here, she just ran up the stairs, chasing Van Den Brand.
The corner wasn’t too sharp but it caused some troubles when riders followed each other closely. I managed to catch as Gabriella Day’s dismount caused Linda Van Rijen some trouble.
After the first lap, I went to my next spot, another set of stairs, that was at the beginning of a zig-zag section. I used the 17-40 wide angle lens here plus an on-camera flash. I would have preferred a two flash setup but I just didn’t have the time to set it up and test it properly. Compton, again, wasn’t strong enough to threaten the Van Den Brand or Vos, but she managed to up a decent gap between her and her chasers.
This is an angle where the 2.8 aperture comes really handy. The 24-70 lens thus gives me a wide angle AND some nice and narrow depth of field. I really liked this spot so spent one or two laps here. The leader of the race was constantly different, Vos and Van Den Brand kept riding very close to each other.
Daphny Van Den Brand
Whilst Belgians dominate the men’s field, the only Belgian rider in the women’s top 10 is the 18 years old Sanne Cant, who, in spite of her young age, seems to perform very well at every race. She is certainly someone worth watching.
In the last lap, she was clearly leading the race.
Marianne Vos, chasing Van Den Brand.
You gotta love Sanne Van Paassen. Her helmet is always tilted and she always makes a really struggling face during races. Though her ride wasn’t as solid as it normally is, she managed to retain the 4th place overall.
With Van Den Brand’s win, the World Cup got even more exciting. Compton’s lead over Van Den Brand is now only 10 points and Vos also might have a shot at the overall title, though, she’s 50 points behind (the winner gets 60 points for a win, 50 for 2nd place, 45 for 3rd), so unless the former two makes a mistake, her chances are slim.
After the race and the award ceremony, the winner is taken to doping control. There’s a chaperone, who keeps an eye on subject from the second they crossed the finish line and shadows them everywhere.
And the weather just got nicer and nicer. Stay tuned for the men’s race.