Cyclo-cross World Cup Benidorm: Fem van Empel edges out Puck Pieterse in classic battle

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado hangs on for third and World Cup overall win

Clock13:39, Sunday 21st January 2024
Fem van Empel in the rainbow stripes

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Fem van Empel in the rainbow stripes

Fem van Empel (Visma-Lease a Bike) narrowly beat Puck Pieterse (Fenix-Deceuninck) in a tight race to win the Benidorm round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup.

The pair were evenly matched for most of the race but van Empel came through in the final set of corners to win for the second year running in Spain.

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) finished third after a gutsy ride with a back injury. Her placing on the podium ensured the overall win the World Cup with one round remaining.

"It was super hard, the whole race from start to finish. Puck and Ceylin had very good legs. The battle was the same as last year but maybe 100m more, so a battle to the finish," Fem van Empel said after her victory.

"I knew that the first rider through the last corner would maybe win the race, and luckily it was a good plan. Puck was very strong and she had a couple of meters after the jumping the barriers but I kept fighting. I think that the spectators enjoyed that a lot today."

The top three on the podium were without question the strongest riders in the race, and it took only a few hundred meters of racing for their dominance to show with Alvarado, Pieterse, and van Empel quickly establishing a gap on the chasers.

The road climb on the first lap saw Alvarado put into difficultly and it wouldn't be the last time the World Cup leader was forced to chase during the race. By the end of the opening lap Alvarado was two seconds down on the leaders with a select group chasers, including Zoe Bäckstedt (Canyon-SRAM) and Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) at around 19 seconds.

Alvarado closed the gap to Pieterse and van Empel on the stairs section but once again the trio split on the long uphill drag of tarmac with the former world champion forced to chase for a second time. With the gap rising to 13 seconds it looked as though Alvardo's chances of victory were over but while the leading duo swapped turns the World Cup leader kept her calm and a steady tempo to bring the gap down to just a handful of seconds by the conclusion of the lap.

By the fifth lap the pattern remained the same, with Pieterse and van Empel trading blows at the front of the race and Alvarado forced to limit the damage and the set about chasing down her foe. However by the start of the final lap Alvarado had not only made contact but had hit the front as she looked to turn the tables.

She was first onto the long climb but had no response when Pieterse and then van Empel kicked clear.

Pieterse looked like the most likely winner as she closed the door on van Empel through a number of tight corners and technical sections but on the very last set of turns Pieterse was forced off her line by van Empel with the Visma rider winning the sprint in relative ease.

Race Results

1

nl flag

VAN EMPEL Fem

52' 53"

2

nl flag

PIETERSE Puck

+ 1"

3

nl flag

ALVARADO Ceylin del Carmen

+ 16"

4

nl flag

BRAND Lucinda

+ 27"

5

hu flag

VAS Blanka

+ 33"

6

it flag

CASASOLA Sara

+ 44"

7

be flag

VERDONSCHOT Laura

+ 1' 28"

8

lu flag

SCHREIBER Marie

+ 1' 46"

9

nl flag

WORST Annemarie

+ 1' 55"

10

gb flag

BACKSTEDT Zoe

+ 2' 23"

Provided by FirstCycling

Major Races

See All

29 Jun - 21 Jul

fr flag

Tour de France

2.UWT

12 Aug - 18 Aug

fr flag

Tour de France Femmes

2.WWT

2 Jun - 9 Jun

fr flag

Critérium du Dauphiné

2.UWT

6 Jun - 9 Jun

gb flag

Tour of Britain Women

2.WWT

9 Jun - 16 Jun

ch flag

Tour de Suisse

2.UWT

Provided by FirstCycling

Related Content

Link to Tour de Suisse stage 3: Thibau Nys wins punchy sprint finish
Thibau Nys celebrates victory on stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse

Tour de Suisse stage 3: Thibau Nys wins punchy sprint finish

Alberto Bettiol moves into overall lead after placing third in lung-busting conclusion to hilly finale

Clock
Link to Tour de Suisse stage 2: Bryan Coquard wins sprint as Arnaud De Lie drops his chain
Bryan Coquard wins stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse

Tour de Suisse stage 2: Bryan Coquard wins sprint as Arnaud De Lie drops his chain

Frenchman capitalises on Belgian's mechanical in sprint finish after a hilly run-in

Clock
Link to Tour de Suisse stage 1: Yves Lampaert powers to time trial win and first race lead
Yves Lampaert won stage 1 of the Tour de Suisse

Tour de Suisse stage 1: Yves Lampaert powers to time trial win and first race lead

Stefan Bissegger second, Ethan Hayter third on 4.8km course in Vaduz

Clock
Link to Tour of Britain Women stage 4: Ruby Roseman-Gannon pips Majerus in photo finish as Kopecky wins GC
Ruby Roseman-Gannon won stage 4 of the Tour of Britain Women

Tour of Britain Women stage 4: Ruby Roseman-Gannon pips Majerus in photo finish as Kopecky wins GC

SD Worx-Protime try to gift win to Christine Majerus and complete clean sweep, but Australian just comes through on the line as Luxembourg rider celebrates early

Clock
Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox