Fem van Empel takes a brief pause after European title: ‘Physically I’m still okay, mentally it’s becoming increasingly challenging'”


Fem van Empel has announced a brief hiatus from competition following her successive triumph at the European Championships in Pontchateau, revealing the mental toll that accompanies her unblemished record this season.

The 21-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, a former footballer, has had a formidable presence in the cyclocross season, boasting an impeccable win streak of seven victories from as many starts. It is this unrelenting expectation of victory that Van Empel confessed is weighing heavily on her. Despite feeling physically robust, she has expressed a need to step away momentarily from the competitive scene to recalibrate mentally.

Van Empel’s break from the circuit, however, will be a brief one. The world champion is slated to make a comeback towards the end of November in Kortrijk. While her plans for a Parisian getaway were scuttled due to rescheduling, she intends to indulge in a few cycle-free days before resuming training.

Her tenure at Jumbo-Visma since late 2022 has been a testament to her dexterity across disciplines. Van Empel has not only contributed to Shirin van Anrooij’s victory in the Tour de l’Avenir but also notched an impressive eleventh place in the general classification at the Giro d’Italia. With an appetite for the road increasingly influencing her ambitions, she hinted at a desire to expand her presence in road cycling next season, although the specifics remain undetermined. Nonetheless, she affirmed her commitment to cyclocross, which remains her discipline of choice.

The effortless manner in which she amasses victories belies the challenges she faces, as Van Empel admits to experiencing difficulties during her latest race. Despite early errors, she regained her composure and successfully expanded her lead, once again demonstrating the tenacity and skill that have become her hallmark in the cyclocross world. Van Empel is currently on a winning run that stretches back 12 races to mid-January 2023.