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Holmgren twins race into the top-12 of final World Cup round

Holmgren twins race into the top-12 of final World Cup round

Isabella Holmgren came 10th and sister Ava was 12th in Sunday’s final round of the 2023-2024 UCI Cross World Cup in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. Fem van Empel and Lucinda Brand showed why they’re the favourites for next weekend’s world championships by finishing one-two. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado didn’t have a stellar day, but she wrapped up the overall title. Maghalie Rochette was the third Canadian in the top 18.

Rochette crossing the line in 18th.

Earlier in the day, Canada’s Rafaelle Carrier came fifth in the Junior women’s race

The Situation Before Sunday

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado had already wrapped up the title after three wins. Fem van Empel had four victories and Puck Pieterse had also taken three wins.

The Canadian contingent was Maghalie Rochette, Sidney McGill, Ava and Isabella Holmgren, Christiane Bilodeau, Katelyn Walcroft and Madeleine Pollack among 67 riders.

Surprise! Marie Schreiber claimed yet another hole shot on Lap 1. Puck and Brand were right behind her. Rochette had the best start of the Canucks. The world champion went to the front. Fem and Brand opened up a little gap before the forest. Ava Holmgren moved into the top-20. At the end of the first circuit, van Empel and Brand were just ahead of Pieterse. Holmgren crossed 18th and Rochette 19th.

Van Empel and Brand lead the way on Lap 1.

On Lap 2 the trio of van Empel, Brand and Puck hammered along three seconds clear of Alvarado and Kata Blanka Vas before the front group became a quintet with Brand driving. The pace dropped Alvarado. Schreiber and Zoe Backstedt impressed by catching up and going right to the front before the line. Rochette, Ava and Isabella were 17th to 19th.

Van Empel, Pieterse, Brand and Vas on the Lap 2 stairs.

Schreiber pushed clear at the beginning of Lap 3 of 6 with Brand in pursuit. Van Empel made the junction before Schreiber fell back a bit. A dropped chain gave Alvarado further worries. Brand was three seconds in arrears at the midpoint of the race. Puck led Vas and Scheiber. Rochette had bounced up to 12th.

Brand continued her pursuit of van Empel on Lap 4 and they were reunited by the middle of the circuit. The race for the final podium spot saw Pieterse working hard to catch up with Vas and Schreiber. Rochette had sifted down to 18th, but Isabella was 14th and Ava 16th.

Vas and Schreiber weren’t far behind as the penultimate lap began. Brand made a tremendous save when she got wobbly in a mud rut. Vas bridged over. Isabella…

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