Fem Van Empel has scored her first victory in the rainbow jersey in Lille. After a stunning and intense duel with Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Van Empel crossed the line victorious, lying on her bike with the stance of a true superwoman. The newly-crowned world champion certainly took her fifteenth victory of the season in style.
Just before the start, Van Empel had admitted she was eager to show off her new jersey to the cycling world. “I am looking forward to wearing the rainbow jersey for the first time in competition. I am also starting here with the ambition to win and do well in the GC,” she said with determination.
Van Empel immediately put those plans into action. On the second lap, the twenty year-old rider increased her pace and only Alvarado could catch up. A thrilling duel ensued, although Van Empel seemed to have the advantage.
In the final laps, the Jumbo-Visma rider put the pressure on. Each time she managed to gain a few metres, but the tenacious Alvarado doggedly refused to give up. On the final lap, Van Empel finally made enough of a gap to cross the line first, lying on her saddle.
“This is a nice victory,” Van Empel said. “It was the first time I got to ride around in this beautiful rainbow jersey. That makes this victory extra beautiful. I had to work hard for it today. I noticed that I skipped the training this week. The feeling on the road was far from good, but the taste of victory is very sweet.”
Van Empel had decided to end her off-track spell early especially for this cross. “I really wanted to show this jersey to the public. Also because I live very close to the course. It was great to ride here. The conditions were fantastic. As I said, the feeling on the bike was far from good, but I wasn’t stressed for a moment. I think I finished the race well and did well in the standings. Next week in Brussels, I will try to finish the season well.”