Fem van Empel has given Tram Visma | Lease a Bike Women its first victory of 2024 on the first day of the year. Van Empel beat Lucinda Brand in a thrilling duel at the traditional X2O Trophy in Baal on New Year’s Day.
Heavy rain had turned the course on and around the Balenberg into a giant puddle of mud with many slippery and precarious passages. Van Empel and Brand opened up a gap in the first minute and never looked back. They exchanged the lead throughout the race.
On the final lap, Van Empel made a considerable effort to create an unbridgeable gap. In the final muddy sections, the young Dutchwoman’s victory was never in doubt.
“It is nice to start the new year with a victory. It was a very challenging course, but we knew it would be. Lucinda put me under a lot of pressure on the descents. It seems like my technique has let me down a bit lately, but maybe it’s something psychological. Anyway, it’s nice to win here”, said Van Empel, who fell on her right knee during one of the runs. The wound required stitching immediately after the race.
The win in Baal is Van Empel’s lucky 13th of the season.