Fem van Empel of Team Jumbo-Visma has won the World Cup race in Antwerp for the second year in a row. The young rider pulled away from Lucinda Brand on lap five and then rode an impressive solo race to the line. It was an incredible eleventh victory of the season for Van Empel.
Starting from the second row, Van Empel got off to a fast start on the sandy Antwerp track. The reigning European and World Champion was third on the grid and, together with Brand, quickly opened up a gap on the rest of the field. When Puck Pieterse joined them halfway through the race, a three-way battle seemed likely, but Van Empel was having none of it and clearly had a game plan.
The youngster accelerated on the fifth lap and gradually pulled away from her compatriots. With an eighteen-second lead over Brand, Van Empel coasted to her third World Cup victory.
“It took some getting used to, but during the race, I gained more and more confidence and felt stronger and stronger. I am thrilled with this win,” she said.
Van Empel also owed her victory to the jumps. It was the first time she had jumped over the barriers in competition.
“I practiced a lot on Wednesday and I’m happy that I was able to make a difference today because the barriers followed each other quickly and were conveniently placed on the straight.” she said.
According to Van Empel, it is good that the competition is getting more fierce. “The closer the level, the higher the level at the end. I like the battle, and it is also great for the spectators to see!”
Van Empel has a busy cyclocross schedule in this the final week of 2023. She will race in Gavere on Tuesday, 26th December, in Heusden-Zolder on 27th December and in Hulst on 30th December and she will be hoping to end the year on a high.