Fem van Empel has won the Koppenbergcross for the second year in a row. The 21-year-old rider from team Jumbo-Visma dominated the first race of the X20 Bathroom Trophy from start to finish to claim an impressive sixth victory of the season.
Van Empel pulled away from her rivals from the start and had a quarter of a minute lead after the first lap. The reigning world champion was unflappable on the muddy course and crossed the line first after an hour of racing. Her lead over runner-up Denise Betsema was just under two minutes.
“It was tough. I’ve never had such a tough race here”, Van Empel said. “You can’t imagine putting so much energy into it, because you’re hardly moving forward. I tried to keep the pressure on as much as possible and look for the grass edges. The conditions were treacherous.”
The Koppenbergcross is known as one of the toughest classics on the cyclocross calendar. It is also the first race of the X2O Badkamer Trofee, a classification in which time is the decisive element. “The Koppenbergcross is my favourite. At the beginning of the season I said I’d definitely ride it because I think it’s a very nice course. The conditions today made it extra special.”
According to Van Empel, the Koppenbergcross was a good test for next Sunday’s European cyclocross championships in Pontchateau, France. “The most important thing now is to recover well and then I will prepare for the next race as usual.”