Fem van Empel continues her impressive streak in the early cyclocross season. She took her 3rd World Cup race in a row at Tabor, keeping Puck Pieterse and Annemarie Worst at bay. The first European round of the season, Tabor in the Czech Republic, followed the first two rounds in America at Waterloo and Fayetteville. Van Empel brought a series lead into this race and leaves it with an even bigger lead. The big news before the start of the race was the hand fracture suffered by Lucinda Brand in recon here. She will be out for an unspecified amount of time and will probably haveS too much work to do in the World Cup Series.
Marie Schreiber of Luxembourg was the quickest out of the blocks at the race start. She spent the first half a lap in the lead, keeping the pre-race favourites behind. Puck Pieterse was the first to make contact and she took control of the race. The quick start left only 10 riders at the front – Van Empel, Alvarado, Van der Heijden, Betsema, Van Anrooij, Worst, Van Alphen and Vas. Pieterse continued to attack – the only rider able to consistently bunny hop the barriers – gaining time on each lap. As she went clear, only Worst and Van Empel could join her.
Behind them, Vas, Betsema and Alvarado bust a gut to catch back up, giving us 6 riders at the front. Betsema launched an attack, a little bit later than her usual early race stint. Vas tried as well but the elastic wouldn’t snap. Heading into the final lap, Worst positioned herself to try and negate Pieterse advantage. The Dutch riders almost ending up in the fencing in their battle before the barriers. Whilst they battled, Van Empel kept watching from the third wheel. She timed her moment to strike perfectly. A slight uphill section gave her the chance to accelerate and go clear. A couple of metres gap was enough to decide the finish. After outsprinting Brand in the last race, we saw another side to the tactically astute Fem van Empel. Pieterse won the battle for 2nd place, Worst 3rd, with Betsema and Vas rounding out the top-5 in Tabor.
“The legs weren’t even that good. The jet lag cut in well. I haven’t gotten much sleep the last few days. I could only follow today. An attack on the last climb proved enough. I knew Puck would jump over the barriers. The pace to them was therefore very high, but I was able to follow her on the climbs.
Three World Cup victories, I really didn’t expect that before the season. It’s just a long season and maybe I should get some rest too. However, I will be there next week in Maasmechelen.”Fem van Empel
“I just don’t think I went through the cross on the barriers. Last year I was given free rein, not now. I actually wanted to attack on the last climb towards the finish, but Fem had the same idea.”Puck Pieterse
“There might have been a little more, but the girls are very strong. It was a tough cross, but I think it’s also very nice to watch. It was very fun and exciting. I wanted to start the kick and beam part first because I knew Puck wanted to jump over the beams.
I had to prevent that, otherwise she’ll be gone. It finally worked, but yeah… I tried and got the best out of it. There might have been a little more, but the girls are very strong. It was a nice course. The leading group was very large, which is partly due to the fast course. There are a few technical sections, but it is mainly a very fast cross. So you also had to think tactically.”Annemarie Worst
Tabor World Cup 2022 Results
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