‘Already watched Tour as a little girl’

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NOS Cycling

Several Olympic medals, a series of classics and after this weekend three overall victories in the Giro. Annemiek van Vleuten’s track record is bulging. Still, you don’t get used to winning, the 39-year-old cyclist says in the NOS radio program on Sunday evening Along the line† “It was a new experience to do it with a different team.”

Van Vleuten has been driving for Movistar since 2021 and had not yet won a major round in the service of that Spanish employer. Yesterday it was time to win the Giro Donne, formerly known as the Giro Rossa.

She made the difference fairly early in the stage race that had ten stages. She won the fourth stage, the first in which serious climbing was required. “Why wait? I’m not very good at that…. Attack is the best defense. In that stage I laid the foundation, created peace of mind and put many GC riders behind.”

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Annemiek van Vleuten in Italy

In that fourth stage, Van Vleuten grabbed the pink leader’s jersey and then did not relinquish it. She also won stage eight and started the last days with a big lead. Still, she didn’t want to celebrate too soon. “It remains exciting. It only has to be something wrong with food, for example.”

She knows what it’s like to hand over the pink jersey in a promising position. In 2020, as classification leader, she broke her wrist in the seventh stage and dropped out. Last year she ran the Italian stage race in connection with the Olympic Games. “It’s nice to finish the Giro well now.”

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Annemiek van Vleuten on the podium with her teammates

Afterwards, a party broke loose at Van Vleuten and her team. Just after ten o’clock in the evening, Van Vleuten was still drinking champagne, before going into Venice. “We were told in the team that we had to think about it, so it has to be celebrated.”

According to Van Vleuten, relaxation is the key to success. That is why she will train in Italy in the coming weeks, in a place where she really likes it. She also tries to keep the agenda as empty as possible. “Some friends are coming over, but I’m not going to make appointments with journalists.”

Tour de France

In her ‘relaxation weeks’ she will recharge the battery for the Tour de France Femmes, which starts on July 24. She is looking forward to that, because as a little girl she watched the Tour on television. “Since I was eight…”

First Tour Femmes has eight stages and finishes on very steep Planche

Either way, the upcoming Tour promises to be a memorable one. The French round is back on the women’s agenda after thirteen years. And is therefore not yet on the honors list of Van Vleuten, who only experienced her breakthrough in 2010. One more reason to want to be on the highest scaffold on July 31, at the end of the eight-day race.

Van Vleuten already won ‘La Course’, the replacement course, in 2017 and 2018. But that wasn’t a real round, because that match only lasted one or two days.

Mentally recover

Conquering the pink and yellow jerseys in this calendar year should be possible, according to Van Vleuten. “Certainly when I feel how I have now come out of the Giro. I am fit and have recovered well every day. It is now mainly a mental recovery. That you find the eagerness again to tackle it during the Tour. You have to be continuously focused. Also during sprint and fan stages, stages in which I only have something to lose.”

According to Van Vleuten, the yellow jersey is in any case no more special than the pink jersey she won yesterday. “I have a little more with Italy than with France, but I don’t think one race is more important than the other.”