Fem van Empel won a great race at the World Cup race in Benidorm today. A foursome battle between Van Empel, Pieterse, Persico and Van Anrooij saw the riders going back and forth for the last few laps with any of them looking able to win. Only late in the final lap did the four become a pair and Van Empel and Puck Pieterse finally managed to put some distance to their rivals. The super dry course contained a lot of loose gravel and Pieterse looked increasingly ragged on the absolute edge. A couple of small mistakes allowed Van Empel to come through and be ideally positioned for the final bit on the tarmac to the finish line.
Marie Schreiber, now of SD Worx but still racing cyclocross in Tormans colours until the end of the CX season took the predictably early fast start from the tape. She led the early riding but gradually began to slip backwards through the group as the stars began to come through. The fastest cross we’ve seen in a while thanks to the wet winter in northern Europe saw riders strung out. Lucinda Brand suffered a crash but was able to quickly restart whereas Clara Honsinger had a crash that put her to the very back of the field.
At the front, the elastic stretched and snapped back as the riders suffered various stronger and weaker parts to the race. Annemarie Worst was always just in the back of the live shot, maintaining the gap to the front four but never able to reel them in.
The difference maker was a seated acceleration from Van Empel that only Pieterse could respond to. The pair had an epic battle with the World Cup standings on the line – a win by Van Empel would seal that competition. Shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow, Van Empel was able to keep her position and be in the ideal spot for the race to the line. Van Empel now has a lead of 45 points in the standings with only 40 points available in the final World Cup race of the year at Besançon.
“I never expected this, I achieved my goal for this cross. It was a nice battle with the four of us, also with Silvia. She was very good too. But Puck and I made it a fight to the end. After my injury and the Dutch Championship it was not easy mentally, but the people around me helped me well. That’s why I was really looking forward to this race.”Fem van Empel
“It was a very difficult race. Fem and I made it a great race, only Fem was a little bit better. It was really cool here in Benidorm, especially with all the fans screaming. The course was like a street race, which made it very difficult to position here.”Puck Pieterse
World Cup Benidorm Cyclocross 2023 Results
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