At the second round of the X2O Trofee series in Kortrijk, Fem van Empel of Jumbo-Visma demonstrated her resilience and skill, overcoming an early crash to secure another solo victory. This triumph marked her eighth win of the season and maintained her undefeated record in the 2023-24 cyclocross season. Despite a challenging spill on the second lap behind Puck Pieterse of Fenix-Deceuninck, Van Empel quickly recovered, utilising her power on the course’s long straights to close the gap and ultimately overtake her competitors.
Lucinda Brand of Baloise Trek Lions and Pieterse secured second and third places, respectively. Brand, steadily returning to form after an injury, faced a tough challenge from the two younger riders. Pieterse encountered a mechanical issue, dropping her chain, which allowed Van Empel to seize the moment and take the lead. Van Empel’s winning margin over Brand was 26 seconds, with Pieterse finishing 1:05 behind.
Speaking post-race, Van Empel expressed her satisfaction with the race’s outcome, despite the energy cost of her early crash. The victory extended her lead in the X2O Trofee series, positioning her well ahead of her closest competitors, Denise Betsema and Brand.
This podium mirrored that of the last World Championships in Hoogerheide, with Brand and Pieterse swapping their previous positions. It was the first time this season that these three contenders had raced together, given their various breaks and injury recovery periods.
Pieterse and Van Empel, both acknowledging their competitive yet friendly rivalry, shared insights into their approach to the sport. While Pieterse remarked on the distinct differences between cyclocross and mountain biking, Van Empel reflected on the importance of training and her recent preparation in Spain.
Van Empel, emphasising the mental benefits of training in sunny conditions, focused on endurance training for the upcoming spring season. She shared her excitement about racing only once a weekend at present, given her young age. Pieterse, who also opted out of the upcoming World Cup round in Dublin, aims to peak later in the season, particularly at the World Championships.
2023 X2O Trofee Kortrijk Women result
Results powered by FirstCycling.com
Main photo credit: Cor Vos