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Maghalie Rochette ninth in the Benidorm, Spain World Cup

After a classic clash with Puck, van Empel secures the title

On Sunday the penultimate race of the 2022-2023 UCI ‘Cross World Cup was set in Spain for the first time since Igorre in 2011. Puck Pieterse and Fem van Empel engaged in another classic clash, while Maghalie Rochette raced hard through the last two laps to come ninth. Van Empel’s seventh Cup victory means that she has nailed down the title.

A fuzzy image of Rochette crossing the line.

Shirin van Anrooij might have claimed the last two rounds, but she sat far from the lead. Sadly, her race winning machine was stolen on Saturday after a course recce. Fem van Empel, with half of the dozen rounds in her pocket, was top elite woman, up on Puck Pieterse by 35 points.

The Canadian duo was Rochette and Sidney McGill. Earlier in the day, Isabella Holmgren was second and Ava Holmgren third in the Junior women’s race.

After Lap 2 of 7, van Empel led Pieterse by a second, with van Anrooij and Silvia Persico trailing by four seconds. Maghalie Rochette was 15th and McGill was 37th.

On Lap 3, Annemarie Worst chased the quartet. Puck and Fem tried to take their leave of van Anrooij and Persico.

New Dutch champion Pieterse leads van Empel, van Anrooij and Persico at the beginning of Lap 3.

The dry, fast course’s traits meant that Pieterse and van Empel could surge clear of the other two before sections favoured van Anrooij and she could bring Persico back. The foursome was intact on Lap 4. Rochette was up to 10th.

With three laps to go, one wondered when a big attack would shatter the quartet. Worst, Lucinda Brand and Zoe Backstedt were the closest pursuers. Rochette was 14th and McGill 41st.

Van Empel and Pieterse on Lap 4.

On the penultimate lap Persico was the one tried to sew up the gap with van Anrooij. The quartet heard the bell intact.

By the last lap, there was no hope for Worst, Brand and Backstedt to join the business end of the race. Van Anrooij led up the stairs, Persico having to catch up again. On the uphill road section Van Empel and Pieterse finally shed the others. Van Anrooij unhitched Persico. It was shoulder to shoulder stuff and van Empel only forced a gap in the final 300 metres.

The last round is January 29 in Besançon, France.

2022-2023 World Cup, Round 13, Benidorm
1) Fem van Empel (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) +52:47
2) Puck Pieterse (The Netherlands/Alpecine-Deceuninck) +0:03
3) Shirin van Anrooij (The Netherlands/Trek Baloise Lions) +0:13
9) Maghalie Rochette (Canada) +1:50
41) Sidney McGill (Canada)