Fem van Empel is five for five so far in the 2023-2024 cyclocross season, winning the second round of the World Cup in Maasmechelen, Belgium on Sunday. The 21 year old in the rainbow jersey soloed away from Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado on the second of six circuits to add to her lead at the top of the standings.
Fem van Empel, winner of the Waterloo opening round, faced the podium of Saturday’s Superprestige race: Alvarado, Annemarie Worst and Marion Norbert Riberolle. Puck Pieterse was on a break from racing. The Canadians were racing in North America.
Worst was caught up in a crash immediately after the start on Lap 1. Alvarado stormed her way past a couple of riders to reach van Empel in the lead. Luxembourger Marie Schreiber took Position 3 in the string. The world champion and the Superprestige series leader started to gap others on the technical parts of the course. Van Empel’s power in the sand pit created space between the two Dutch riders, and she finished the first 3.09-km lap at 8:16.
Alvarado sewed it back up at the start of Lap 2 but was soon trailing again after a crash. Aniek van Alphen was in podium position. Alvarado had to find 25 seconds after two circuits.
Van Empel took a fresh bike at the beginning of Lap 3 of 6. Alvarado had to change shoes, which allowed van Alphen to momentarily move past her.
On Lap 4 Alvarado pulled out a few seconds on van Alphen. Van Alphen had to think about Inge van der Heijden on her six. Van Empel had a minute’s lead.
Van Alphen found Alvarado at start of the penultimate round after the latter erred. Again, Alvarado put real estate between herself and the Cyclocross Reds rider and heard the bell nine seconds ahead of Van Alphen.
Rain fell on the bell lap. Alvarado hung tough and followed up third at Waterloo with a runner-up spot in Maasmechelen after 19.09 km of racing. Van Empel was 1:28 faster than Alvarado.
The next World Cup race is November 12 in Dendermonde, Belgium.
2023-2024 UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Round 2 Maasmechelen
1) Fam van Empel (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) 51:46
2) Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Deceuninck) +1:28
3) Aniek van Alphen (The Netherlands/Cyclocross Reds) +1:42