The provisional start list for the U23 European Championship in Namur has been announced and somewhat surprisingly Fem Van Empel is on it. The winner of all 3 World Cup races this cyclocross season would likely be able to win the U23 race comfortably but also would be one of the favourites for the Elite race as well. There is, however, still a chance that Van Empel rides against the Elites.
Last year’s race saw Shirin van Anrooij take the U23 European Championship ahead of Puck Pieterse and Fem van Empel. All 3 earn solid results in the Elites but for Van Empel, after wins in Waterloo, Fayetteville and Tabor there is a good chance for an Elite title. Ironically, with her closest rivals also in the U23 race, the Elites race potentially looks like the easier to win for the in-form Dutch rider. The issue is to do with the ruling that once a rider has raced in an Elites championship, they can never go back to the U23 race. This has implications later on in the season when it comes to the World Championships and also the season-long World Cup that Van Empel currently leads.
For Van Anrooij, staying in the U23 gives her a chance to retain her title whereas Pieterse can also look forward to attempting to become U23 World Champion in Hoogerheide later this year.
The 2022 Cyclocross European Championships take place in Namur on 5th and 6th of November, so we will find out the decision fairly soon.