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Isabella Holmgren eighth in sandy Koksijde round of X2O Trofee

Isabella Holmgren eighth in sandy Koksijde round of X2O Trofee

Isabella Holmgren followed up her ninth in Baal with eighth in Thursday’s sandy Koksijde, Belgium course, the fifth round of the 2023-2024 X2O Badkamers Trofee. Her sister Ava, on the Baal podium, came eleventh. Fem van Empel claimed her 14th victory of the season; she has triumphed in all five rounds of the series.

Isabella Holmgren on the start line on Thursday.

The Situation Before Thursday

After four consecutive wins, Fem van Empel was in control of the series 6:06 ahead of Lucinda Brand.

There was another big Canadian contingent: Ava Holmgren, Isabella Holmgren, Rafaelle Carrier, Nico Knoll, Siobhan Kelly, Christiane Bilodeau, Aislin Hallahan, Katelyn Walcroft and Mary Fay St. Onge.

Van Empel showed her intentions by taking the hole shot on Lap 1, Brand right on her tire and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado after that. Ava Holmgren was eighth in the string but one of the sandy runs put her behind the front group. Van Empel pushed clear of the others. At the line the world champion was 21 seconds ahead of Brand, who in turn was 12 seconds faster than Alvarado. Ava held on to eighth.

Van Empel, Brand and Alvarado on Lap 1.

The gaps between van Empel, Brand and Alvarado stabilized at the beginning of Lap 2 of 5. Belgian Laura Verdonschot, in unfamiliar De Ceuster-Bonache colours, was Alvarado’s main podium threat.

Van Empel fell in the Lap 3 pits while taking a new machine. Alvarado avoided Verdonschot. The world champion had 39 seconds to play with going into the penultimate lap. Isabella had passed her sister during the middle circuit.

A rare mistake from van Empel on Lap 3.

Verdonschot was tenacious in her pursuit of that final podium spot on the penultimate lap. This caused Alvarado to push on closer to Brand.

Verdonschot’s pursuit of Alvarado spurred the latter closer to Brand.

Brand wasn’t going to yield her runner-up spot so easily on the bell lap, but she had to hold off her compatriot in a tight two-up sprint. Thirty-nine seconds earlier, van Empel had raised her arms in triumph.

Brand barely held off Alvarado for the runner-up spot.

The next round is on January 27 in Hamme.

2023-2024 X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 5, Koksijde
1) Fem van Empel (The Netherlands/Visma-Lease a Bike) 52:15
2) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Baloise Trek Lions) +0:39
3) Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Deceuninck) s.t.
8) Isabella Holmgren (Canada/Lidl-Trek) +5:51
11) Ava Holmgren (Canada/Lidl-Trek) +8:51
17) Rafaelle Carrier (Canada)…

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