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Cyclocross

Puck Pieterse leads all-Dutch U23 podium at ‘cross worlds

Shirin Van Anrooij and Fem Van Empel round out the Dutch domination in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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Fayetteville, Arkansas (VN) – Puck Pieterse of The Netherlands beat compatriot Shirin van Anrooij with a bike throw at the 2022 UCI world cyclocross championship.

Their Dutch teammate Fem van Empel — who had been with them nearly all the race off the front — rolled through in third place, after having taken a spill with one kilometer to go.

Madigan Munro was the top American, finishing in eighth place.

How it happened

The six-lap race on a 3.1km circuit unfolded in fast and dry conditions, with temperatures in the low 50s.

The 29-woman start list was a who’s who of top ‘cross aces with Pieterse, van Empel, and  van Anrooij on the front row alongside Line Burquier and Amandine Fouquenet of France and American Katie Clouse.

Off the line, Fouquenet took the holeshot and led into the first corner with Clouse on her wheel, and Pieterse slotted in between them on the first lap.

Soon, a front group of seven were away on the long climb on the back half of the course.

The two French and three Dutch women flew up the stairs singlefile.

Clouse could not handle the pace of the then front six, which also included Marie Schreiber of Luxembourg.

Pieterse pitted on the first lap, and executed a bike swap perfectly without any loss of time.

At this point in the ripping-fast race, the sextet had 10 seconds margin the first time thru the finish line.

Clouse and American teammate Madigan Munro chased in the second group behind.

Dutch break

Pieterse and van Anrooij surged from the other four and got a small on van Empel and Fouquenet on the second lap before the stair climb.

Fouquenet looked to be struggling with the pace of van Empel who was chasing after her teammates into the third lap.

Pieterse took the lead from van Anrooij on the “Stonehenge” feature and the two had just a five-second margin at the beginning of the third lap.

A chase group was 30 seconds behind keeping the pressure on the front of the race, but the pursuers made up no ground.

Clouse lost contact with the back of the chase group, while Munro had moved to seventh, 45 seconds back.

An all-Dutch podium was looking very likely with half the race gone as Fouquenet faded.

The three Dutch riders rode as a compact unit for most of the rest of the race, increasing their advantage of the rest of the field.

Fouquenet paid for her fast start and was a minute back with two laps to go.

Van Empel struggled on a berm on the fourth lap and lost contact with her teammates, getting back on terms on the stairs.

The Dutch trio had a massive 15-second margin on Burquier, who was riding solo at the time, with two laps remaining.

On the big climb, Pieterse attacked her teammates, but they marked her. Into the final lap, the three Dutch held their margin on the French rider.

Pieterse sat as third wheel for most of last lap while van Anrooij rode the front. When van Empel came to the front, the three slowed and started looking at each other, allowing the French rider to shave half the margin.

Pieterse again attacked on the back straight, but again did not get any separation.

Van Empel stumbles from the front

Van Empel slipped on the climb and this allowed Pieterse to get away. This gapped van Anrooij and the two were four seconds back with half a lap to go.

Pieterse tried to extend her lead on the stairs but van Anrooij brought once again her back with Van Empel still distanced

Pieterse led van Anrooij into the turn before the final straight and was the first to open the sprint. The sprint was close, but with a bike throw Pieterse nipped van Anrooij at the line.

Behind, van Empel had remounted her bike, and still had enough of a margin on Burquier to hold on for third.

2022 UCI World Cyclocross Championship Under-23 Women’s Results

  1. Puck Pieterse (NED), 46:27
  2. Shirin Van Anrooij (NED), at :00
  3. Fem Van Empel (NED), at :12
  4. Line Burquier (FRA), at :39
  5. Amandine Fouquenet (FRA), at 1:26
  6. Marie Schreiber (LUX), at 1:49
  7. Kristyna Zemanova (CZE), at 2:15
  8. Madigan Munro (USA), at 2:16
  9. Katie Clouse (USA), at 3:03
  10. Harriet Harnden (GBR), at 3:34