There is plenty of anticipation of the next big clash between the current stars of women’s cyclo-cross, Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse. Both riders have confirmed their participation in the upcoming X2O Trofee race in Kortrijk on Saturday.
In their last encounter on 15 October at the World Cup in Waterloo, world champion Van Empel overcame Dutch champion Pieterse by a significant margin. After her victory, Van Empel continued to compete up until the European Championships in Pontchâteau. Meanwhile, Pieterse took a break from cyclo-cross, only returning on the previous weekend in Troyes, where she finished second once again, this time behind Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado.
The Kortrijk competition marks Van Empel’s return to the fray, setting the stage for the first battle between the two young talents since October. Pieterse is looking to secure her first victory of the season at the Urbancross and hopes to end the undefeated streak of her Jumbo-Visma rival Van Empel, who has achieved seven consecutive wins this season including the European Championships. Notably, neither of the 21-year-old Dutch riders will compete in the World Cup in Dublin on Sunday, and it remains uncertain when their next top-level World Cup confrontation will be.