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A look at Lucinda Brand’s palmarès shows she is the ultimate cycling all rounder. Classics victories, Giro Rosa stage wins, cyclocross accolades, and most recently, the GC overall at the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour.
Brand has podiums results on everything from high mountaintop finishes to bunch kicks, and time trials. Oh, there’s that cyclocross rainbow jersey.
Here’s the thing about Lucinda Brand. Even with all of those cycling accolades, her commitment to her family comes first.
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In the fall of 2020, as Brand began to dominate the European cyclocross season, her father Fred Brand suffered a stroke. After that, the typical pro cyclist’s routine of train, rest, race, repeat was far from Lucinda Brand’s mind.
“The day after one of my races my mom called me up saying that he was in the hospital,” Brand told VeloNews earlier this year. “I live closest to them, and I live in the city, so I was quickly in the hospital.”
Brand’s mother, Aafje, had suffered a similar incident years before, so she was familiar with the care that her father would require. Also, before Brand became a full-time cyclist, she worked in patient rehabilitation. Both experiences helped Brand understand the severity of her father’s condition.
“I learned to help people in their rehabilitation using sport,” she said. “For example when you cook you need to be able to stand for 20 minutes, you can train this with a physio of course, but just by doing some sports in the gym or in the pool, you help people to get back to where they used to be.
“I have seen many of those kinds of cases. It wasn’t that bad so we were thinking it was a small stroke, but then they found out that it was probably just starting, and during the next day it became a bit worse. At that moment it was not good and it was extremely hard for him of course.
“On one hand you have the experience with your mom, but on the other hand that makes things a bit more scary because you know exactly what’s going on, because you know that they can’t do anything because they did the treatment already.”
Over the following weeks, Brand and her brother swung into action to help their parents. Older brother Giancarlo, a mechanic at Jumbo-Visma, had been slated for the Vuelta but remained in the Netherlands, staying at his parents’ house three days a week.
Lucinda Brand covered the rest of the time between training and racing commitments.
“I always went after training to pick her [mom] up and take her to see my dad and go back again,” Brand said. “Sometimes I felt a little bit like a taxi driver! That takes a lot of time and energy, but they had bought a new house and their old house had to be sold. There was a lot going on that had to be arranged, and Dad was scheduled to do that, but suddenly we had to do it. That was the most challenging part.”
Over the following weeks, while his daughter was dominating the international cyclocross circuit, Fred Brand slowly recovered from the stroke. He left the hospital in early December, and though he’s not as fit he was, he’s undergoing therapy and already has his driver’s license back.
Brand says her dad’s competitive nature helped. As a younger man, Fred was a very good amateur cyclist, competing throughout Europe, sometimes against the professionals. He met Aafje through the sport, so maybe it was inevitable his daughter became a cyclist.
“The whole family is into it, my mum’s side and my dad’s side, and my uncles,” Brand said. “I have some family who were pro cyclists so it’s definitely in the blood. When my brother started to ride as a younger sister you enjoy going to the club also.”
That win was the pinnacle of a stunning season, which she achieved despite the stress of having an ill parent. She won 12 of her 28 races, never finished lower than fifth, and, as well as the rainbow jersey she topped the three-season long competitions, the UCI World Cup, Telenet Superprestige, and the X2O Badkammers Trofee.
Brand has kept the confidence rolling into the road season. Much of her 2020 road campaign was torpedoed by illness and injury, and so far, Brand has enjoyed a return to the front of the women’s field. After scoring top-10 finishes at Brabantse Pijl and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Brand came into the six-stage Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour on top form. She won two stages and finished no lower than 7th. The victory marked her first pro stage race win since the 2016 Ladies Tour of Norway.
Results aside, cycling remains a family affair for Lucinda Brand. Giancarlo helps out in the cyclocross pits, just like her dad used to do. In recent seasons, Fred Brand’s role has changed. He carries Lucinda’s bag before and after races. And he’s there for other types of support as well.
After Lucinda won her world cyclocross title Ostend, her first phone call was to her dad.