Culture

Out of the Saddle with Annemiek van Vleuten

We find out about the world champion's life beyond the bike in the first of our new series of interviews.

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Be it in the classics, time trialing or world’s biggest stage races, no woman has been as dominant in recent years as The Netherlands’ Annemiek van Vleuten.

The world’s number-one ranked rider for two of the past three seasons, van Vleuten dominated the world championships last year with a long solo breakaway, capping off an already stellar season that included victories in the Strade Bianche, Liège-Bastogne-Liège as well as the Giro Rosa.

But who is Annemiek, really?

We at least scratch the surface as participates in our first Out of the Saddle interview, a fun, new, off-beat questionnaire that goes well beyond the bike.

Annemiek Van Vleuten
Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

VeloNews: What was your first bicycle?

Annemiek van Vleuten: It was a Gazelle I think, no actually, I had a red Peugeot race bike that was like fifth-hand or something. I think my parents put me on a bike whenever there was one around. But my first real bike was the Peugeot. It was a race bike, but really for me it was just a bike for going to school.

VN: If you could be anything other than a cyclist what would it be?

AvV: Oh I would have liked to be a doctor or to work somehow in the medical profession, something where I could be really helpful. Otherwise, I just would like to inspire people to go out and do sports and fitness so that they see the social and physical importance of sports.

VN: What non-cycling object to you treasure the most?

AvV: Hmmm, I think that would be the earrings that my father gave me when I was 18 years old. I was wearing them in the world championships, and pretty much all of the important races I have won. They remind me of my father, who died in 2008, and always give me a smile. And when I wear those earrings I know that he is always with me.

VN: Which living or historical person do you most admire?

AvV: That’s easy, my mother. Since my father died, she has always been so positive. She is a powerful woman. She showed me how to keep on enjoying life and staying positive. She keeps smiling and it is never fake.

VN: What is your greatest extravagance?

AvV: All the amount of money I spend on altitude camps in Tenerife. That is for sure my biggest extravagance. I have to spend that if I really want to be in top condition, but it is really expensive for me and a little bit crazy when I think about how much I pay to train in Italy. But it is the only place I can go in altitude when it is cold in Europe, so I just close my eyes and pay.

VN: What is your favorite film or film character?

AvV: Pretty Woman! It just gets better every time I see it. I love the clothing, the styles everything.

VN: What is your favorite musician or band?

AvV: Oh that would be Racoon, a Dutch band, but they also sing in English.

VN: What quality do you most like in a person?

AvV: Persistence. Not giving up!