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Cyclocross

Fem Van Empel completes World Cup hat trick in Tábor

Van Empel makes it three-from-three as World Cup hits European soil, takes dominant lead in series standings.

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There’s no stopping Fem Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) in the opening rounds of this UCI Cyclocross World Cup.

The young Dutchwoman made it a World Cup three-from-three on the Czech circuit of Tábor on Sunday as she brought her dominant Stateside form back to European soil.

Bunny-hopping ace Puck Pieterse (Alpecin Deceuninck) and U.S. racing dominator Annemarie Worst (777) completed the podium for an all-Dutch top-three.

Defending World Cup champion Lucinda Brand was not racing after a crash during training Saturday left the Baloise Trek Lions rider with a broken hand.

With victories at both Fayetteville and Waterloo, the 20-year-old Van Empel is already 49 points ahead in the World Cup standings.

Van Empel left it late to win out of a closely-locked seven-rider bunch on Tábor’s grassy, twisting circuit.

Van Empel, Pieterse, Worst, Blanka Vas (SD Worx), Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) were locked together through the final few laps as riders took turns trying to take control.

Pieterse, Van Empel and Worst detached mid-way through the final lap before the series leader accelerated away to avoid the final sprint.

“My legs felt not so good today. With the jet lag [from flying from the U.S.] during the week, I didn’t have much sleep. So the only thing I could do was follow. On the last climb, I could attack and that was enough,” Van Empel said.

Once Van Empel got her gap, she made a wild out-of-the-saddle charge through the final minutes of the race to land her World Cup hat trick.

The UCI series heads to Belgian venue Maasmechelen next weekend – all eyes will be on Van Empel.

“Three World Cup wins, I never expected this,” she said. “It’s a long season this year, so maybe I’ll have some rest at some point, but yes, next week I’ll be there in Maasmechelen.”

Results powered by FirstCycling.com