In a pulsating race at Heusden-Zolder, Fem van Empel staged a remarkable comeback to clinch a sensational win, edging out Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado in a breathtaking final sprint. This victory marked a significant rebound for Van Empel, who had previously suffered her first defeat of the cyclocross season at the Gavere World Cup.
The former F1 circuit at Heusden-Zolder set the stage for a high-speed contest, with Van Empel delivering a dynamic performance from the outset. Despite a challenging crash on the third lap, which saw her take a tumble on the same knee that had troubled her earlier in the season, Van Empel showcased remarkable resilience. She described the incident as a setback, stating, “I hit one of the many small pits in the descent, and I fell off my bike, landing on my knee. But you might as well get back up, and fortunately, I was able to continue.”
The World and European champion’s determination shone through as she relentlessly pursued Alvarado, eventually catching up and vying for the lead. The race culminated in an electrifying sprint finish, with Van Empel outpacing Alvarado to secure her twelfth victory of the season.
Van Empel reflected on the race’s challenges and her strategy for the final sprint, where she sought to position Alvarado at the front. Despite the risks involved, her calculated gamble paid off, resulting in a triumphant outcome. This win not only underscored her exceptional talent but also served as a testament to her competitive spirit, especially after the recent setback at Gavere.
The event at Heusden-Zolder was a showcase of top-notch cyclocross action, with Inge van der Heijden completing the podium in third place and Belgian champion Sanne Cant finishing fourth. The race was marked by its technicality and the enthusiastic support from the crowds, adding to the day’s excitement. Van Empel’s triumph at Heusden-Zolder was a reaffirmation of her dominance in the field, highlighting her resilience and relentless pursuit of victory.
2023 Heusden-Zolder Women result
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Main photo credit: Cor Vos