Feb 04, 2023 at 4:00 PMUpdate: 3 minutes ago
Fem van Empel won the cyclocross World Cup for the first time in Hoogerheide on Saturday. The twenty-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider crossed the line solo after a very dominant performance. Puck Pieterse seized silver and Lucinda Brand completed the Dutch party as number three.
The differences were big: Pieterse finished second at no less than 39 seconds from Van Empel. Brand conceded more than a minute. Fourth place was prey for the Italian Silvia Persico, who trumped in the sprint. No less than seven Dutch drivers finished in the top ten.
The impressive Van Empel ensures the fourth Dutch World Cup victory in a row with the women on the wet course. In recent years, Alvarado (2020), Lucinda Brand (2021) and Marianne Vos (2022) have triumphed successively. Vos was unable to defend her title on Saturday due to physical problems.
Van Empel and Pieterse were the big favorites prior to the title fight. The contemporaries, together with Shirin van Anrooij, made a big impression this season. Van Anrooij was not there on Saturday because she will ride the U23 cross on Sunday.
Women’s Cyclo-cross World Championships result:
1. Fem van Empel (Ned) – 54.32 2. Puck Pieterse (Ned) – 0.39 3. Lucinda Brand (Ned) – 1.11 4. Silvia Persico (Ita) – 1.45 5. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) – 1.46 6. Annemarie Worst (Ned) – 2.14 7. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) – 2.36 8. Denise Betsema (Ned) – 2.41 9. Maghalie Rochette (Can) – 2.55 10. Hélène Clauzel (Fra) – 3.02
Pieterse immediately has to chase after a bad start
Van Empel did not drop a stitch on Saturday, unlike Pieterse, who immediately had to chase after a bad start. On the other hand, Van Empel was well off: she soon made a gap with the rest. Pieterse found a good rhythm and in Van Empel’s wheel she crossed the line after the first round.
The Dutch drivers then drove a few seconds ahead of Persico and the strong driving Brand for a long time. Van Empel always pushed on the heavy strips, but Pieterse always quickly found the connection.
After three of the seven laps, Van Empel and Pieterse had a gap of five seconds on Brand, while Persico and Alvarado followed at nineteen seconds. The decision came in the fourth round, when Pieterse lost track of Van Empel due to a crash. The Jumbo-Visma driver himself drove flawlessly and slowly but surely ran out.
For example, the race was in the fold, also because Pieterse had a comfortable margin on Brand in the battle for second place, who in turn held off Persico and Alvarado. The last lap was a lap of honor for the impressive Van Empel, who was able to put her hands in the air early on.
The women rode seven laps of just over three kilometers on the winding course. Photo: Pro Shots
Men compete for world title on Sunday
Earlier in the day, Belgian Thibau Nys had won the gold medal in the U23 men’s category. Nys, the son of legend Sven Nys, was head and shoulders above the rest. The Dutchman Tibor del Grosso captured the silver. Witse Meeussen from Belgium finished third.
The elite men’s cross starts on Sunday at 3 p.m. Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert are the big favourites. Defending champion Tom Pidcock is not among them.