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While some of her biggest rivals have fairly busy racing blocks in the build-up to the French grand tour, with racing through June and into the Giro d’Italia Donne, Vollering is keeping a low profile throughout the early part of the summer.
Vollering raced for the first time in over a month at this weekend’s Dutch national road race, where she finished 20th, but that will be her only competitive appearance until she lines up in Paris on June 24. The Dutchwoman wants to ensure she’s in her best shape for the final stages of the Tour de France Femmes and hopes the gamble will pay off.
“We need to find out how that goes, of course, but I think I can really do hard training myself,” Vollering said in a press conference ahead of the national championships.
“My goal is being good at the end of the Tour de France. I can have a few races that I can do to get a little bit in the racing mood again if that’s needed, but I think this is the best way for me to be there on my best form. I hope that’s the best way, but we will find out when I’m there on the start line.”
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The Tour de France Femmes will be only Vollering’s third grand tour in her short career after making her Giro d’Italia Donne debut in 2019 and returning to the race last year. She’s shown she’s up for the GC fight in a longer race with 13th on her first attempt and third overall last year, as part of an SD Worx clean sweep of the podium.
However, going all in for the GC can take its toll and she doesn’t think that she’ll be in top form for the Tour if she races the Giro first. Instead, after an altitude training camp through June, she’s returning to her base in Switzerland so she can train exactly how she wants to.
“I’ve only done the Giro twice in my life and both times I was not so good coming out of it,” she said. “That was the main reason I made the decision to not do the Giro because I am afraid to come out of the Giro again not super good and that that’s something I don’t want to risk.
“I want to be good on the last two stages of the Tour, so I think it will be hard to do a Giro and then be good again at the end of the Tour. For example, for Lotte [Kopecky] she just does both, but for her, the main goal is the beginning of the Tour de France so it’s a bit easier.”
Vollering is not the only one who is planning to eschew the Giro d’Italia Donne in favor of the Tour de France Femmes, but there are several big names that will be attempting both. First and foremost will be Annemiek van Vleuten, who has announced she will go for the GC in both races.
With Van Vleuten missing the Spanish stage races in May due to injury, the Tour de France Femmes will be the first time since Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April that the two will face off against each other. The pair will be among the five-star favorites for the yellow jersey at the Tour, but Vollering says she’s not worrying too much about what her rival is doing this summer.
“I’m not really busy with how she is, I’m more focused on how I will be there. That’s the only thing I can do in the end to be there on my best form and to hope that that is enough to beat her or yeah, there’s not much that you can do about that,” Vollering said.
The introduction of the Tour de France to the women’s calendar has caused plenty of excitement since it was announced in the middle of last year. There’s definitely a lot of hype around the event but it remains to be seen just what lasting impact it can have on the women’s side of the sport.
For Vollering, it will be a special moment to line up on the start line in Paris, but it is the final stages that will be most special for her as it passes near her adopted home of Switzerland.
“Of course, it’s special because it’s the first time, and for me, it’s also really special because it’s close to my home on the last few stages,” Vollering said. “The Tour de France is something special. It’s one of the biggest sports events for the men, of course. I think for the women, maybe not yet. Maybe it will become the biggest sporting event [for women]. Of course, it will be something special.”