Fem van Empel won the first race of the 2023-2024 UCI Cyclocross World Cup held at the Trek Bicycles grounds in Waterloo, Wisconsin on Sunday, to seal a double victory in the event in the past two years. The 21-year-old member of Team Jumbo-Visma rode to victory on the tough, but fast course in convincing style and with apparent ease. Van Empel now leads the World Cup standings.
After a false start, Van Empel set a fast pace. By the second lap, the Dutch World Champion had opened up a gap. She immediately put pressure on her closest rivals, Puck Pieterse and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and halfway through the race, pulled away from the others definitively.
In the only remaining US race, Van Empel once again proved her qualities. With a 36-second lead over Pieterse, she crossed the line first after just over 48 minutes. Alvarado completed the Dutch podium.
“I rode at my own pace throughout,” said a delighted Van Empel. “That was enough to create a gap. I’m happy with the way the race went and I didn’t pay too much attention to what was happening behind me. Tomorrow, I’ll fly back to the Netherlands, and then I’ll start preparing for next weekend’s race in Overijse.”