Road

Annemiek van Vleuten eyes packed racing schedule

With four big races next week, will Annemiek van Vleuten's winning streak continue?

After a “successful race period” and then a few weeks without competition, world champion Annemiek van Vleuten will be back at a start line on Saturday at the Dutch national championships.

After the weekend’s event in the Netherlands, the Mitchelton-Scott rider heads into an extremely full week of racing: Tuesday’s GP de Plouay, Thursday’s European championship road race, and La Course on Sunday. Per usual, the Dutchwoman is returning to the line with casual confidence.

“It was an incredible period in Spain and Italy, with four wins in a row in as many [races],” she said on her website. “After that I went on an altitude training camp, especially to relax and to train [effectively], in order to work in peace after a busy period of racing.”

Van Vleuten’s first stop on her next racing block will be nationals on Saturday. She chose to race at home in Holland rather than line up at the European championship time trial on Monday.

“Those races simply cannot be combined if you want to ride a good time trial,” she said.

Although van Vleuten won’t be in France on Monday to challenge defending European time trial champ Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), the Dutch nationals should provide a good show. Both multi-time champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) and the defender of the Dutch title Lorena Wiebes (Sunweb) will challenge van Vleuten in Drenthe on Saturday.

To meet all safety requirements and regulations related to COVID-19, the Dutch races will be held on a completely closed course.

After the Dutch championships, van Vleuten will travel to western France for Tuesday’s GP de Plouay, and then Thursday’s European championship road race.

The Women’s WorldTour race in Plouay was a late addition to van Vleuten’s schedule; like many athletes, she said she realized the tenuous nature of racing in 2020 and felt that the opportunity was too great to pass up.

“I often skipped Plouay because of the travel time, but because the European championship is now also there, I chose to start,” she said. “We also do not know how the season will continue, so I would also like to ride the races that are there.”

After the European championship road race, van Vleuten has two days to recover before La Course, in Nice. While the world champ was initially critical of the 96-kilometer course, she decided to attend. Was her disdain for the course founded on principle, or does it simply not suit the strong climber?

“It does not mean that nothing is possible,” she said. “There is indeed a climb in the course, where I might be able to do something [for] myself or otherwise do something for the team. Hopefully, we can show something beautiful and continue with confidence towards the next races.”

After La Course, van Vleuten has time to rest up for her two main goals of the season: defending her titles at the Giro Rosa and the UCI world championships. Fingers crossed the races will go on.