Van Anrooij wins a stunning cyclocross race at Beekse Bergen

With World Cup leader Van Empel second the race proves a changing in the guard in women's cyclocross.

Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise-Trek Lions) wins race five of the 2022/23 Cyclocross World Cup at Beekse Bergen
Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise-Trek Lions) wins race five of the 2022/23 Cyclocross World Cup at Beekse Bergen
(Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Shrin van Anrooij took her first top level race win after an enthralling race at the cyclocross World Cup race at Beekse Bergen in the Netherlands on Sunday. 

The Baloise-Trek Lions rider attacked a leading group of three women at the start of the final lap, and built a slim advantage as the two chasers initially looked to each other.

Having won all four previous World Cup races so far this season, Fem van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) was left to chase, with Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) sat on her wheel. As the closing lap progressed it seemed like Van Anrooij would be caught, especially with the pursuing duo jumping barriers two-thirds around the lap.

However, Van Anjrooij was able to hold on through the ensuing sand pit and onto the tarmacced finish straight, eventually beating Van Empel by a solitary second, with Pieterse third.

Not only has 20 year-old Van Empel won all the previous World Cups, this season has seen a changing of the guard in women’s cyclocross, Sunday’s race being the second time the podium in a top tier race has been occupied entirely by 20 year-olds.

Meanwhile, in her fourth race of the ‘cross season, current and eight time world champion Marianne Vos was able only for finish fifth.

How it happened 

The fifth round of the UCI’s 14 round World Cup was held over six laps of a largely flat, sandy and dry course next to a lake just south of the Dutch city of Tilburg. 

Having won every round of the competition so far this year, along with last weekend’s European championships, Fem van Empel started the race as overall favourite, and sure enough, early on the first circuit the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider was ahead.

Having taken two Alpecin-Deceuninck riders with her in the form of Ceylon del Carmen Alvarado and Puck Peterse, the leading trio crossed the line for the first time some five seconds ahead of world champion Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Kata Blanka Vas (SDWorx).

Despite having won Superprestige Niel on Friday, Alvarado seemed to be struggling early on, the two 20 year olds always just ahead, though the trio crossed the line together at the end of the second lap, still seven seconds up. 

Behind them Vos and Vas had been joined by yet another young Dutch superstar in the making, Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise-Trek Lions), who was best young rider at July’s Tour de France avec Zwift, and the chairs briefly joined the leading group.

As that group formed though, Peterse got a gap off the front, forcing Van Empel to chase, she and Alvarado eventually crossing the line at the end of the third lap with a four second deficit, Van Anrooij closing in form behind.

With her team mate ahead, Alvarado able to sit on the World Cup leader’s wheel and Alpecin-Deceuninck seemed in a good position, however, when Alvarado crashed after catching her pedal on a barrier, Van Empel was left to chase her Dutch compatriot alone. And she was soon back at the front, she and Peterse crossing the line, some eight seconds ahead of Van Anrooij, Alvarado with Vos further back.

Just onto the fifth lap Van Anrooij reached the front group making for three 20 year-old Dutch women at the front of a top tier race. The race was far from over though, Alvarado fighting hard to get back to the front, Vos hanging on and they closed the leading trio down, starting the final lap only only five seconds down.

But, as that closing circuit began, Van Anrooij, the Under 23 European road and time trial Under 23 champion, made her move, instantly gaining an advantage as Van Empel and Peterse look too each other.

Earlier in the day British rider Imogen Wolff finished second in the women’s junior race, her best result for eh season so far.

Result Beekse Bergen UCI Cyclocross World Cup - Elite women 

1. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise-Trek Lions in 47-02
2. Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at .01 sec
3. Puck Peterse (Ned) Alpecin-Deceuninck at same time
4. Ceylon del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin Deceuninck at 25 sec
5. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 30 sec
6. Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) SDWorx at 46 sec
7. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise-Trek Lions  at 47 sec
8. Marie Schreiber (Lux) Tormans at 1-06
9. Aniek van Alphen (Ned) 777 at 1-09
10. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 1-17

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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.