Glorious return to cyclocross for Van Empel
Fem van Empel has marked her return to the field with a victory. The 21-year-old...
Fem van Empel has won the World Cup field trial in Maasmechelen for the second year in a row. The 21-year-old World Champion of Team-Jumbo-Visma dominated the technical course from start to finish. The victory was the fifth of the season for the still unbeaten Van Empel.
She put the pressure on her rivals from the start. On the first lap, only Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado could match Van Empel's pace. When Alvarado suffered a mechanical failure on the second lap, the reigning world champion was alone at the front. She systematically extended her lead to over a minute and rode to her second World Cup victory of the season.
"I didn't have the best feeling on the first lap, but I'm happy with the way I finished the race", Van Empel said. "I had a good start, but it wasn't until the second lap that I found my rhythm. After that, it was up to me to keep a high pace to keep the riders behind me at bay. It was not always easy to estimate my lead, but fortunately, the people on the side kept me informed about the time differences."
Van Empel has enjoyed a perfect start to the season. After four previous victories, she was also the strongest at her fifth cross. "Before the season started, I thought it would be crazy to do better than last year. But at the moment, I'm actually doing even better. I know there might come a time when things don't go so well. This is something special, so I'm enjoying every moment."
Next Saturday, the European Championships will take place in Pontchâteau, France. Van Empel will be there as the defending champion. "A championship is always a special race. On a day like this, everything has to be perfect to win. It will also be important to stay fit next week. I'm looking forward to it, but first, I hope to get a good result at the Koppenbergcross on Wednesday", Van Empel concluded.