Fem van Empel has shown in Hamme that she is ready for next Saturday’s Cyclocross World Cup in Hoogerheide. The 20-year-old Dutch won the cross for the X2O trophy in the Belgian town with force majeure.
Van Empel already made a gap in the first of six rounds and then drove further away from the competition, which, as usual, also consisted of Dutch women. Shirin van Anrooij crossed the finish line second, 1 minute and 14 seconds behind Van Empel, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado was third and Lucinda Brand fourth.
Van Empel already secured the overall victory in the World Cup in Benidorm last week. The Jumbo-Visma rider also took the lead in the standings for the X2O trophy from Brand with her victory in Hamme, but she has already indicated that she will skip the remaining two races in this series. After the World Cup in Hoogerheide, she is taking a rest to let her knee, which has been bothering her for some time, recover.
“The knee is still not 100 percent, I try to take care of it every day,” Van Empel told Sporza before the cross in Hamme. “I feel a stabbing pain in the kneecap with every movement. Difficult, but you learn to deal with it. Two more games, then it’s time to give the knee a rest.”
The Dutch stayed after her victory in Benidorm for a training internship in Spain and returned home on Friday. “I was still a bit tired from that stage. I didn’t feel ‘super-super’. But it was enough to win here,” said Van Empel. Her biggest rival for the world title, Puck Pieterse, was missing in Hamme. Pieterse will ride the World Cup race in the French city of Besançon on Sunday. Van Anrooij will compete in the U23 category at the World Cup.
“In principle, I have achieved all my goals this season,” said Van Empel, the most successful cyclocross rider of this winter. “An awful lot has come to me, I had to be there every week. Next week the World Cup is a day apart. I will do everything I can to be there. I will go to Hoogerheide as relaxed as possible.”
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