European Championship 2023: Dominant Fem van Empel lives up to favorite status among elite women

Sunday, November 5, 2023 at 2:53 PM

Fem van Empel As expected, has managed to win the European cyclo-cross title among the elite women. The top favorite rode away from the opposition in the first round and then soloed convincingly to the title. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado crossed the line second, the Italian Sara Casasola finished somewhat surprisingly in third.

The stormy weather did not completely destroy the European Cyclo-Cross Championships in Pontchâteau. The matches originally scheduled for Saturday would now all take place on one day. In other words, we could prepare for a very busy cyclo-cross Sunday. After the competitions for juniors and promising women, it was the elite women’s turn. Before the start, almost all eyes were on Fem van Empel. The world champion, undefeated in the field this season, could hardly lose.

Dutch ladies are off to a good start
At least, that was the gist of the start, but of course the cross had to be ridden first. Due to the heavy rainfall in recent hours, the course in Pontchâteau was even muddier, slippery and therefore more treacherous. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado got off to the best start. The Rotterdam native with Dominican roots is known for her good start and was the first to enter the field, followed by Inge van der Heijden in Fem van Empelwho also had a flawless start.

There was no limit again for Fem van Empel – photo: Cor Vos

The Dutch delegation quickly took control of the race, with Alvarado, Van Empel, Van der Heijden, Aniek van Alphen in Annemarie Worst in positions one through five. Top favorite Van Empel initially looked around for a while, but after about seven minutes she decided to shake the tree for the first time. With a sharp acceleration she put Alvarado and Van der Heijden under a lot of pressure. The two pursuers did not immediately have an answer, but Alvarado did not give in easily.

Van Empel’s lead is growing
Alvarado tried to correct the lopsided situation on the second lap and drive to Van Empel again. On a technical level, the two did not give each other an inch, but the reigning world champion appeared – not for the first time this season – to have a clear advantage in the power lanes. The latter was ultimately the deciding factor, which was also visible in the difference between Van Empel and Alvarado. The latter lost more and more ground and after two laps was already behind by almost half a minute.

Alvarado was joined in the third round Inge van der Heijden, while Van Empel had completely gained steam. The leader managed to double her lead to more than a minute and was able to complete the last few laps on ‘economy mode’. In the meantime, Alvarado had said goodbye to her compatriot Van der Heijden and rode safely in second place. The battle for third place was still very interesting, because Van der Heijden had now been joined by the strong Italian Sara Casasola.

photo: Cor Vos

Van Empel is clearly the strongest, Alvarado good for silver
The emerging Casasola, who had already managed to put her nose to the window in the past crosses, drove further and further away from Van der Heijden in the second half of the cross. And so the battle for the podium places seemed to be over. Van Empel did not encounter any more problems and managed to successfully complete her beautiful solo. Then we had to wait a while for Alvarado, who showed up again the best of the rest could mention. Casasola won the bronze medal and thus managed to break through the Dutch hegemony.

Van der Heijden and Van Alphen completed the top 5. The first Belgian, Marion Norbert-Riberolle, finished sixth after a good catch-up race. Further in the top 10 we see the names of Anna Kay, True Cant, Laura Verdonschot in Amandine Fouquenet.

photo: Cor Vos

flag-europe European Cyclocross Championships 2023 flag-fr Pontchâteau
Results, elite women
flag-nr1 flag-nl Fem van Empel – in 52m44s
flag no. 2 flag-nl Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado – at 1m35s
flag-nr3 flag-it Sara Casasola – op 1m56s
4. flag-nl Inge van der Heijden – op 2m39s
5. flag-nl Aniek van Alphen – at 3m06s
6. flag-be Marion Norbert-Riberolle – at 3m18s
7. flag-gb Anna Kay – at 3m24s
8. flag-be True Cant – op 3m44s
9. flag-be Laura Verdonschot – at 3m58s
10. flag-fr Amandine Fouquenet – at 4m15s

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