Fem van Empel has made a great comeback in cyclocross. Two weeks after her painful fall in the Val di Sole World Cup, the 20-year-old European champion was unapproachable on New Year’s Day at the Sven Nes Grand Prix in Baal. She soloed on a very muddy track to her 11th victory of the season.
For Van Empel, this was also her first victory for her new employer. Baal debuted in a Jumbo-Visma T-shirt.
The Brabant cyclo-cross racer said before the start that she mainly wanted to test her form at Baal. She had been away for two weeks and wasn’t quite sure how she was doing. It soon became apparent in the first round that Van Empel was by far the strongest. She was the only one who rode her bike almost effortlessly over the muddy streaks.
Van Embel pulled away from the competition on a muddy slope halfway through the first lap and gradually distanced himself. Lucinda Brand tried to start a chase, but the former world champion in Rotterdam was toiling on the track and soon realized that second place was the highest he could achieve. I arrived two minutes later. Celine del Carmen Alvarado turned it into a full Dutch podium by finishing third at 2.27 from winner Van Embel.
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