Fem van Empel, Wout van Aert score dominant victories at X20 Hamme

Jumbo-Visma pair Van Aert, Van Empel makes pre-world championship statement with huge solo wins in the Flandriencross.

Photo: BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

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Round six of the X2O Trofee saw riders head to Hamme in the north of Belgium.

Riders set out to test themselves with one week to go until the World Championships in Hoogerheide, and winners Fem van Empel and Wout van Aert passed with flying colors in a Jumbo-Visma doubleheader.

In the women’s race, Van Empel dominated the field, breaking away solo on the first lap and spending the whole ‘cross alone out front, eventually taking the victory by a margin of 1:15.

Van Empel’s closest rival, Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck), was not present, but Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) took second and Pieterse’s teammate Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado came in third.

“The feeling wasn’t ‘super super’, but it was enough to win,” Van Empel said after the race.

“It was not the intention to immediately take the lead. I was quite tired from the World Cup in Spain, but luckily I was able to win here.”

“I have already achieved all my goals. A lot has happened to me. You have to be there every week anyway. Luckily I have the right people around me. But yeah, it won’t be obvious. Next week is a day apart, but I will do everything I can to be there again. It will be a normal week of training as always, I will handle it like any other competition. The preparation does not have to be very different either.

“After the world championships, my season is over. So I don’t participate in the other competitions for the X2O Trophy. It is what it is, I need some rest after the world championship.”

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Guess who?

It was a similar story in the men’s. In the absence of Mathieu van Der Poel, Van Art went clear on lap one leaving the trio of Eli Iserbyt, Michael Vanthourenhout (both Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal), and Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) chasing.

Van Aert comfortably took the win with Iserbyt in second, Vanthourenhout in third, and Ronhaar in fourth.

“The form was really good today,” Van Aert said after the race. “I could take a distance from the rest in the beginning which put me in a hard race alone in the front for really long. It was definitely worth it, it was a good test and a hard race.”

The absent world title contenders Van der Poel and Pieterse both race at the World Cup round Sunday.

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