Van Empel about ambitious Team Visma | Lease a Bike in Amstel Gold Race

Van Empel about ambitious Team Visma | Lease a Bike in Amstel Gold Race

On Sunday, 14 April, Dutch cycling fans will get ready for the highlight of the national cycling calendar. Team Visma | Lease a Bike Women is heading to the south of our country with a strong squad. After physical setbacks, Fem van Empel hopes to play an important role for the Dutch team, which is aiming for the best possible result with former winner Marianne Vos.

Van Empel, only 21, has been unbeatable this winter. Nineteen times, she has been the strongest rider in a cyclocross race. After extending her world title and winning the Lille cross in early February, Van Empel headed to Tenerife to prepare for the big spring classics. A strong training camp was cut short by illness the day before her departure.

"Actually, everything went well. Unfortunately, I got sick the day before I was supposed to leave. As a result, I was not able to get fit in time for Gent-Wevelgem. It was a shame because that was our goal. That was what we were working towards", Van Empel explained. The Dutch rider from Team Visma | Lease a Bike has since raced Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders.

"I'm looking forward to Sunday, it's always fun to race in your own country"

Fem van Empel

She enjoyed her first racing kilometres on the road. "The Tour of Flanders was a great experience with all the spectators along the roadside. I wouldn't have missed it for the world." However, the following week did not go as well as hoped. "I was sick again and spent more time in bed than on the bike for a week. Fortunately, I felt much better this week. Hopefully, the setbacks are behind me now."

This Sunday, Van Empel will compete for the first time in the Amstel Gold Race, the most important Dutch one-day race. "I'm really looking forward to it. It is always fun to race in your own country; I know that from the cyclocross races. My family will be with me. The profile of the Amstel Gold Race is within my capabilities, but I am especially curious about my physical condition. We have a strong team, which makes different scenarios possible. I want to make my contribution to the team."

"After the spring, we are on the right track for a good season"

Rutger Tijssen

The Dutch team has a former Amstel Gold Race winner in Vos. She recently celebrated her 250th professional victory. Her form is excellent. Vos confirmed this again last Sunday at Paris-Roubaix, where she finished fourth. "Even so, it was disappointing. Yes, considering Marianne's background, the result was impressive, but she would have liked to have won. That's part of top-level sport: you win some, you lose some", Rutger Tijssen says.

Strong development

The technical director of the Visma | Lease a Bike Women's team has noticed that his team is developing well. "Before the start of the season, I was hoping for three victories and many places of honour. After the spring, we are on the right track for a good season. I'm not just looking at the results. All in all, we have grown as a team across the board."

For Tijssen, 20-year-old Rosita Reijnhout's WorldTour victory in Australia is a perfect example of the team's development. "Last year, we already had a lot of new riders. These young girls are now a year older and more used to the organisation and training required at the highest level of cycling."

"Rosita excelled in Australia, Nienke Veenhoven is riding strongly where she did not always succeed last year, and the newly arrived Mijntje Geurts is also making great improvements as she discovers what top-level sport is all about", says Tijssen, listing a few examples of the excellent development the riders are going through this season.

The women's team's organisation changed a lot last winter. Tijssen explains: "After the departure of our female race coaches, Jos van Emden and Jan Boven are now in charge. We had competent people on the team before, but you can see that Jos and Jan bring a lot of experience and calmness to the rest of the staff and the organisation. It seems to be paying off quickly."

"Sports directors Jos en Jan bring a lot of experience and calmness to the organisation"

Rutger Tijssen

On Sunday, the Dutch team will be looking to shine on home soil. "I would be lying if I said we were not going for the win. We are starting with a solid team. I'm sure we'll be fighting for victory. How great will it be to win the Amstel Gold Race again as a Dutch team?", Tijssen wonders.

Team Visma | Lease a Bike Women will try to achieve this with the following team: Marianne Vos, Fem van Empel, Riejanne Markus, Eva van Agt, Anna Henderson and Sophie von Berswordt Wallrabe.

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