Fem van Empel, in her first race since repeating as world cross champion, won her tenth consecutive round of the X2O Badkamers Trofee, going back to the 2022-2023 season. She took Sunday’s penultimate round of this season’s series in Lille, Belgium, and will win the overall title twice in a row. She has only lost two out of 21 races this season. In 2022-2023, she won 16 out of 24 races.
Van Empel went into the penultimate round of the 2023-2024 series with a commanding 8:13 lead over Lucinda Brand. This year’s World Cup and Superprestige champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado raced only one round of the 2023-2024 X2O Badkamers Trofee.
Van Empel grabbed the hole shot on Lap 1, and Brand, winner of yesterday’s conclusion to the Superprestige series, was on her six. There was a long sand run early in the circuit. Belgium’s Laura Verdonschot has been strong at the end of the season–she surfed her way into third place. Brand couldn’t quite hold the world champion’s rear wheel, but a mistake from van Empel brought her back. The duo crossed the line 12 seconds ahead of Verdonschot, Leonie Bentveld and Annemarie Worst.
Brand nabbed the front at the beginning of Lap 2 , but an error put van Empel in Position 1 again. Soon Brand was once more on the chase. Verdonschot drove the short chase train. Van Empel took an 8-second lead into the third lap. Bentveld had lost touch with the other chasers.
With van Empel and Brand carrying on ahead, Verdonschot and Worst had their own sideshow on Lap 3 of 5. The Belgian began to distance the Dutch rider. Fem’s advantage over Brand was nearly doubled by the line.
On the penultimate lap Brand had to be wary of Verdonschot, who had put Worst in her rear view mirror.
Heading into the bell lap, van Empel had 21 seconds on Brand, who had 16 seconds on Verdonschot, who, in turn, led Worst by 20 seconds. Van Empel, Brand and Verdonschot would all raise the ducky prizes on the podium. It was a short race, with van Empel’s winning time 41:52.
The final round is next Sunday in Brussels.
2023-2024 X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 7, Lille
1) Fem van Empel (The Netherlands/Visma-Lease a Bike) 41:52
1) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Baloise Trek Lions) +0:36
2) Laura Verdonschot (Belgium/De Ceuster-Bonache) +0:51