In no way has Lucinda Brand been taken out of contention for the top spots in cyclocross since her return from injury, however being away from the fight for the win has been an unusual feeling for the Dutch rider who is having very hard competition from the emerging generation.
“I shot over my pedal. That was not such a good start. After that I had to go around the outside, but then a number of riders fell. I was really in trouble because of that," Brand said in an interview with Wielerflits after this Sunday's race in Overijse. After finishing 7th in Beekse Bergen and 4th the day before at the Superprestige Merksplas, Brand confirmed to still have some form following her break due to injury.
Brand suffered a hand fracture whilst doing a recon of the Tabor course in late October. Her ambitions in the cups were gone with almost a month out of racing, but as she returned new goals will come to mind. Brand has had an unlucky start to the muddy and treacherous race in Overijse, however despite finishing a promising fourth place, she wishes for more.
“I thought for a moment that I should have pedaled a bit more to the acidification uphill. In the end the riders really come to a standstill for me and I finish fourth. I should be happy with that. This weekend was really much better. Last week I was really not feeling well," she continued. Brand, who won all cups, the European Championships and dominated last season, now finds herself distant from a dominating position.
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Although she won the early season Berencross, the likes of Fem van Empel, Puck Pieterse and Shirin van Anrooij are currently a level above the rest. “It really felt like I wasn't participating in the race, I was cycling in no man's land all the time," Brand said of her feeling during the Overijse race. "I knew it was going to be difficult, but if you don't play a significant role at all, it's very weird and difficult."
However, she is considered to be fully recovered, a month after her injury. “I was able to train a bit, but it was different," she described. "I trained much less long, had to cycle a lot indoors and couldn't do cross training. That's all very different. I was able to complete good training sessions, which I normally will benefit from within a few weeks. At least, I hope so." Now, she will look to build her best form back and chase big wins.