Van Empel the fastest in the final sprint with Pieterse
Sunday 16 January 2022
The three youngsters Puck Pieterse, Fem Van Empel and Kata Blanka Vas were tipped in advance for the round in Flamanville, France. In a breathtaking setting, they each lived up to their role as favourites. After an exciting sprint with Pieterse, Van Empel finished on the top step of the podium. Vas crossed the line 23 seconds later in 3rd place.
Already in the first lap the youngsters distinguished themselves from the other ladies in the field. In a front group that included Inge Van der Heijden ((777) and Italian champion Silvia Persico, Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix), Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) and Vas (Team SD Worx) immediately showed off their legs.
In the second lap, the two Dutch ladies were completely unleashed. While Vas was chasing them at 20 seconds, they built their lead on the other ladies further and further. In the middle of that lap Pieterse, the leader of the U23 women's classification, accelerated again, which brought her a few seconds ahead of Van Empel.
However, the difference between the two Dutch ladies never got any bigger than 5". During the fast laps, Van Empel managed to close the gap with Pieterse. The two Dutch ladies joined forces again and didn't let anyone come back. At the start of the last lap, it looked as if Vas would make the leap after all, when she narrowed her gap to 10 seconds.
But a diligent Van Empel and an attacking Pieterse prevented her from getting any closer. The two finally rode together to the final straight and after an exciting sprint, in which Pieterse seemed to catch up with Van Empel for a moment, the latter could throw her hands in the air. Vas came in 23 seconds later in third place. A total of 58 years old, the three youngsters on the podium today formed the youngest elite World Cup podium this season.