Puck Pieterse ends Fem van Empel’s winning streak at Gavere World Cup

Puck Pieterse triumphed over Fem van Empel in a captivating contest at the Gavere World Cup, putting an end to Van Empel’s unbeaten run this season. Van Empel, the world champion, had secured victories in the first eleven cyclocross races of the season but settled for second place behind Pieterse, with Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado finishing third. This marked Pieterse’s inaugural victory of the season.

The race, held on Boxing Day, saw all the elite cyclists participate, including Lucinda Brand, Alvarado, and Pieterse. Despite Van Empel’s status as the favourite, the competition was fierce. Marie Schreiber initially led the race, but Pieterse quickly took over, creating a gap on the muddy course. Alvarado led the chase, eventually catching Pieterse after she fell on a slippery descent.

The race evolved into two leading pairs: Alvarado and Pieterse in front, followed by Van Empel and Brand. Pieterse applied pressure on Alvarado in the second lap, while Van Empel struggled with some technical sections, losing confidence and time.

In the final laps, Pieterse extended her lead over Alvarado, with Van Empel trailing by about thirty seconds. Despite her efforts in the final lap, Van Empel couldn’t bridge the gap, finishing second. Pieterse maintained her lead, securing her first win of the season.

Pieterse expressed her delight in the post-race interview, acknowledging the significance of ending Van Empel’s streak. She noted the importance of staying on the bike despite falls and the confidence boost this victory provided.

For Van Empel, this race was a learning experience. She admitted to feeling off during the initial laps and speculated fatigue might have played a role. Her cautious approach on the descents, due to a previous fall in training, also impacted her performance. Despite the setback, Van Empel viewed her strong finish as a positive takeaway.

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, finishing third, reflected on the race’s intensity, citing fatigue and mistakes as factors in her performance. Alvarado praised Pieterse’s strength, acknowledging she had pushed beyond her limits trying to keep up.

The Gavere World Cup thus marked a shift in the cyclocross season, with Pieterse emerging victorious, Van Empel facing her first defeat, and Alvarado battling for a podium finish in a highly competitive field.

2023 Gavere World Cup Women result

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

Main photo credit: Cor Vos

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