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Fem van Empel has finished third at the Dutch championships cyclocross. The European champion rode a good first phase on the muddy Zaltbommel course before losing ground in the second. Marianne Vos finished in tenth place.
Van Empel immediately took the lead. Puck Pieterse and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado joined after the first lap. What followed was a fierce three-way battle in the Zaltbommel mud. At the start of the third lap, Pieterse picked up speed, and Van Empel found it harder and harder to keep up. In the end, after desperate efforts, third place was the highest she could achieve.
"In the end, I missed a few percent on the cross bike."
"I still felt pretty good during the first part of the race”, the 20-year-old Team Jumbo-Visma rider said. "I waited a bit; then I realised that the course's initial section suited me better. It was particularly challenging today because of the difficult weather. In the end, I missed a few percent on the cross bike. Since Val di Sole, I haven't trained on this material. If you want to compete with the top riders, you can't be any less. On top of that, I caught a cold in Koksijde and injured my knee. Maybe the Dutch championship just came too early."
"We saw a very strong Pieterse today”, sports director Jan Boven said. "The strongest woman won today. Fem struggled to keep up with the pace. We had wanted to be stronger here beforehand so Fem could preserve a bit of energy during the race. Marianne struggled with this course, so it became a tough race for her. We did come here beforehand hoping to win the national championship; it's too bad it didn't work out.”