Fem van Empel (21) is racing through the cyclo-cross season like a racing car. The Dutchwoman succeeded herself as European champion in Pontchateau. And now it’s time for a little break, according to the former football star.
Van Empel has not lost a match yet this season. Started seven times, won seven times. “And that is exactly what makes it so mentally tough,” said the Jumbo-Visma rider after winning her second consecutive European title. “People always expect me to win. And I have a hard time with that. Physically I still feel good, but my head says it is time to leave the competition aside for a while.”
Well, not that we have to miss Van Empel for long. The world champion returns to the field, well, in Kortrijk, at the end of this month. “Do I have a vacation planned? Er, I was actually supposed to spend today in Paris, but due to the rescheduling of our competition, that was also canceled. So I’m going to limit myself to a few days without a bike. After that I will resume training again.”
Van Empel switched to Jumbo-Visma at the end of 2022 because she wanted to experience more of the road. Successfully! She guided Shirin van Anrooij to overall victory in the Tour of the Future and finished eleventh in the final classification of the Tour of Italy. “And the intention is to be a little more active on the road next season,” he said. “I don’t know yet in which matches that will be. But I’m certainly not going to leave the cross. If you ask me which is my favorite discipline, I will still stick to cross.”
In the meantime, she strings the victories together in a seemingly effortless way. “Although I found it quite tough today,” she laughed. “I made some mistakes in the first lap, but afterwards things went pretty well again and I was able to systematically extend my lead.”