In a race that was punctuated by early mistakes and a false start, Fem van Empel of Team Jumbo-Visma seized control and soloed to victory in the opening round of the Cyclocross World Cup in Waterloo. The reigning World Champion distanced herself from the pack as early as the second lap, leaving Puck Pieterse and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado to battle for the remaining podium spots.
In an interview post-race, van Empel revealed that she didn’t accelerate but merely maintained her own tempo throughout the race. “I heard that Puck Pieterse had fallen, but I was just focused on my own race. That was enough,” the champion stated. When questioned about the prospect of a predictable women’s cyclocross season, van Empel dismissed the notion, hinting that she’ll be taking a break after the European Championships.
Pieterse, the Dutch National Champion, acknowledged her early errors that cost her the lead. “My cross technique let me down in the beginning. After my mistakes, Fem had a gap and I couldn’t return to her back wheel,” she explained. Despite the setbacks, Pieterse expressed contentment with her second-place finish and is looking forward to recovering from jetlag.
Meanwhile, Alvarado, who also made it to the podium, is already eyeing her next race in Overijse next weekend. “It won’t be an easy race, but the smile, that’s always there,” said the upbeat Alvarado.
Notably absent from top contention was Shirin van Anrooij of Baloise Trek Lions, who had forewarned that she woke up feeling unwell on the day of the race. She withdrew during the third lap, marking her last cyclocross event before an extended period of rest.
The final race results had Pieterse finishing 36 seconds behind van Empel, while Alvarado was further back at 1 minute and 51 seconds. Others in the top ten included Maghalie Rochette, Zoe Bäckstedt, and Manon Bakker.
2023 Waterloo World Cup result
Results powered by FirstCycling.com
Main photo credit: Cor Vos