Fem van Empel opens her World Cup season with victory in Waterloo
Fem van Empel has claimed the opening round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. The world champion launched her attack early in the second round and was never troubled.
The first holeshot of the World Cup season went to the world champion. Fem van Empel was the first into the field in Waterloo with Zoe Backstedt and Puck Pieterse on her wheel. Pieterse and Van Empel wanted to keep the pace high from the start. Only Ceylin Alvarado could keep up with the two of them at the end of the first lap. Backstedt and Bakker followed already eleven seconds behind.
After several mistakes by Pieterse at the start of the second lap, Fem van Empel was left alone in front. The world champion took full advantage of the situation, but Pieterse still retained thoughts of a win. The difference between the two compatriots at the end of the second lap was 10 seconds. Alvarado followed 27 seconds behind Van Empel.
Halfway through the race, Fem van Empel seemed to have everything under control. Without taking many risks, she gradually extended her lead over Pieterse. With two laps to go, the latter finally had to accept that it was not her day. Van Empel eventually rode to her first leader's jersey in the most important points-based criterium with a lead of 36 seconds. Pieterse and Alvarado flanked her on the podium.