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Superwoman: Fem van Empel wins first race in the rainbow jersey

Van Empel and Iserbyt have one hand on the trophies

Fem van Empel won Sunday’s penultimate round of the X2O Badkamers Trofee in Lille in style, doing a Superwoman a la Tom Pidcock over the line in Lille, Belgium. Van Empel and Eli Iserbyt have one hand on the series trophies with one race remaining. Van Empel won her fourth X20 Trofee race out of seven wearing the rainbow jersey she earned last week in Hoogerheide. Iserbyt came in third in the elite men’s contest, losing around 20 percent of his time gap to Lars van der Haar, who was runner-up to Laurens Sweeck, but Iserbyt retained almost a 2:00 buffer with only next Sunday’s race in Brussels remaining.

Elite Women’s Race

Van Empel arrived in Lille with a 1:02 advantage over second place Lucinda Brand and 2:09 on Superprestige titlist Ceyline del Carmen Alvarado, the world champion with three of the first six rounds in the bag.

Nine Canadians had raced in the 2022-2023 X2O Badkamers Trofee, with Maghalie Rochette the highest in GCā€”25th after challenging only a third of the rounds. There were no Canucks in Lille.

Alvarado chased van Empel gamely over the course, with Annemarie Worst and Brand fighting for the podium behind them. Alvarado kept up the pressure right to the end, with van Empel only winning by two seconds, but extending her gap over Brand to 1:49. She’s on her way to a Worlds, World Cup, X2O triple.

2022-2023 X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 7, Lille
1) Fem van Empel (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) 42:18
2) Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (The Netherland/Alpecin-Deceuninck) 0:02
3) Annemarie Worst (The Netherlands/777) 0:21

Elite Men’s Race

Going into Sunday, the top two in the Superprestige final standings had their positions reversed in the X2O series. Eli Iserbyt topped the table 2:35 over Superprestige champion Lars van der Haar, who had grabbed the first-round victory before Tom Pidcock, Iserbyt, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout Van Aert all took round triumphs. Iserbyt had just podiumed at the Worlds for the second year running.

Cameron Jette, so many times the sole Canadian entrant in X2O, Superprestige and World Cup races this season, was last out of 103 riders on GC. Again, there were no Canucks in Lille.

Sweeck’s sixth victory of the season was his first in this series. The Crelan-Fristads rider is the 2022-2023 World Cup champ. Both of Sunday’s elite races were close, with two-second gaps to the runner-up.

Sweeck punches the air as he crosses the line, van der Haar in the background.

2022-2023 X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 7, Lille
1) Laurens Sweeck (Belgium/Crelan-Fristads) 1:00:23
2) Lars van der Haar (The Netherlands/Baloise Trek Lions) +0:02
3) Eli Iserbyt (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +0:23