The Hungarian outsider Blanka Kata Vas had to forfeit due to illness and so on paper it would be a battle between the Dutch women in Tabor. Fem van Empel, Lucinda Brand, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Puck Pieterse were the four favorites for the world title and it was in that order that they entered the field. Laura Verdonschot also had a good start in sixth position, Sanne Cant had a poorer start and got away around position fifteen.
Van Empel did not want to leave anything to chance and immediately pressed the accelerator. After just five minutes of cross, she was already a few seconds away from her compatriots. Pieterse moved to position two and also seemed to get closer when Van Empel changed bikes, but the pace of the outgoing winner was simply too high for the rest. Pieterse was joined by Brand and that was a bad sign, because at the end of the first lap the difference had already increased to sixteen seconds on the two pursuers. The fourth in the race, Alvarado, followed at 39 seconds. It was already clear to the Belgians that a medal was not an option: Verdonschot finished in eighth position at 55 seconds, Cant was still a few positions further.
Van Empel thunders on, Verdonschot moves up
Pieterse found her second wind and put Brand in an opening, but threatening Van Empel was not an option. On the contrary: every time measurement added a few more seconds. Pieterse’s sixteen seconds deficit had already become 35 at the start of the third lap, Brand was another twelve seconds further. From a Belgian point of view, we were mainly looking forward to Verdonschot, who moved up places despite a flat tire and was in battle for sixth position with the Canadian Maghalie Rochette.
That battle did not last long, because Verdonschot was gaining more and more steam. Rochette had to go, the Italian Sara Casasola and the corresponding fifth place came into the sights of the Limburg woman. A few places before that, Brand passed Pieterse in search of the silver.
And Van Empel, he kept going. She made no mistakes and systematically extended her lead. Going into the last lap she had more than a minute lead over Brand and 1’20” over Pieterse. Van Empel also completed the final round flawlessly and thus succeeded herself as world champion. Silver was the highest achievable for Brand, Pieterse completed the Dutch podium. Behind Alvarado, Verdonschot had passed Casasola in the end and finished fifth. Sanne Cant had to be satisfied with fourteenth place.
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Fem van Empel: “Mental coach gave me a few tips”
“This feels very good. I felt great before the start, I was so relaxed that it might have become a pitfall. But I still managed to find the right sharpness,” was Fem van Empel’s first reaction in front of the microphone Sporza.
Van Empel immediately flew in on the first lap and that was also the plan. “I knew that on this course the strongest would come out, but I thought that if I could ride my own lines and do my own thing, I might be able to get an immediate lead. And that it would then be difficult for the competition to come back.”
“I have grown enormously mentally this season,” she continues. “At the beginning of the season I was sometimes unsure at the start, but that was a learning process and it cannot always go well the first time. I think I have found my way and can deal with it. How did I do that? The people around me know what I’m like and a mental coach has given me a few tips on how to deal with that pressure, but I think it’s mainly a matter of experiencing it myself and just walking into the light and then getting out of it. to learn.”
1. Fem van Empel
2. Lucinda Brand + 1’20”
3. Puck Pieterse +1’54”
4. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado +2’37”
5. Laura Verdonschot +2’52”
6. Sara Casasola + 2’59”
7. Annemarie Worst +3’40”
8. Clara Honsinger +3’45”
9. Inge van der Heijden +3’49”
10. Maghalie Rochette +3’52”