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Youth rules the day at World Cup, van Empel takes second win of 2021-2022 series

Sidney McGill the sole Canadian racing Sunday in Flamanville, France

Fem van Empel outsprinted Puck Pieterse to take her second round of the 2021-2022 World Cup Sunday in Flamanville, France. After a great tussle with van Empel, Pieterse would have to be content with her fifth podium in this season’s series. Sunday’s race was all about the youth corps, as the podium was made up of all under-21 riders.

You can watch the final round of the World Cup and the World Championships in Fayetteville at FloBikes.

Lucinda Brand, winner of the last three rounds and six rounds overall, enjoyed a 59-point gap over Denise Betsema going into Sunday’s race and had effectively won her second consecutive title. Both Brand and Betsema skipped Flamanville. The field was a little stingy two weeks before the Worlds.

The riders would be riding around the grounds of a chateau in Flamanville and after several quiet races in Belgium and the Netherlands, the crowds were back in France.

Inge van der Heijden seized the hole shot on Lap 1, with Eva Lechner on her six. Soon van Empel pulled through into Position 1. Pieterse joined van Empel at the front. Kata Blanka Vas and Silvia Persico found them in the final 250 metres of the opening circuit. Sidney McGill was 22nd.

Van Empel and Pieterse lead on Lap 1.

Pieterse pushed from the front at the beginning of Lap 2, distancing her companions. Val di Sole round winner van Empel was Puck’s closest pursuer, and Overijse round champ Vas dropped Persico. Van Empel trailed by four seconds and Vas was 16 seconds back, 15 seconds faster than Persico.

Pieterse and van Empel drop Vas and Persico on Lap 2.

On the third of six laps, van Empel kept glued to Pieterse’s rear wheel. Vas had a large buffer for the final podium spot. McGill was still 21st.

Pieterse and van Empel carried on their battle on Lap 4. Van Empel grabbed the reins for the first half of the circuit. Vas closed the gap to 13 seconds.

Fem van Empel already had a round of the series in her pocket.

On the penultimate lap van Empel and Pieterse both hopped on fresh rigs. Pieterse had a bit of a stumble on the stairs. Van Empel nullified a Pieterse surge. Vas lost a few of the seconds she had gained.

It would come down to the bell lap. Suddenly Vas was back in the picture, albeit in the background. Van Empel took a few metres, but Pieterse came back and attacked. Again van Empel went to the front. Would it come down to the uphill drag to the finish? Pieterse was first through the chateau gate and the two threw down on the climb, with van Empel passing Pieterse just before the line.

The final round is in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands on January 23.

2021-2022 UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Round 15, Flamanville
1) Fem van Empel (The Netherlands/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal)53:39
2) Puck Pieterse (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Fenix) s.t.
3) Kata Blanka Vas (Hungary/SD Worx) +0:23
22) Sidney McGill (Canada) +6:00