Van Empel starts new year with hard-fought victory in mud of Baal
Fem van Empel has given Team Visma | Lease a Bike Women its first victory of 2024. She beat Lucinda Brand in a thrilling duel at the traditional X2O Trophy in Baal on New Year's Day.
Heavy rain had turned the course on and around the Balenberg into a giant puddle of mud with many slippery passages. Van Empel and Brand opened up a gap in the first minute and never looked back. They subsequently exchanged the lead throughout the race.
On the final lap, Van Empel made a considerable effort to create an unbridgeable gap. In the final muddy sections, the young Dutchwoman’s victory was never in doubt.
"It was a very challenging course, but we knew it would be."
"It is nice to start the new year with a victory. It was a very challenging course, but we knew it would be. Lucinda put me under a lot of pressure on the descents. It seems like my technique has let me down a bit lately, but maybe it's something psychological. Anyway, it's nice to win here”, said Van Empel, who landed on her right knee during one of the runs. The wound required stitched immediately after the race.
The win in Baal is Van Empel's 13th of the season.