The Spanish team announced the transfer on Monday morning.
- Annemiek van Vleuten tops at the 2020 European road championships
- Van Vleuten romps to world championship victory with 100km solo move
- The Outer Line: The best has yet to come for women’s pro cycling
“I’m really looking forward to improve together with the whole team, and enthusiastic about what lies ahead with them,” van Vleuten said in a release. “I hope they can help me becoming even faster, also on the TT bike, in combination with Canyon, which looks like a high-end bike to me.”
The news ends weeks of speculation around van Vleuten’s next home, which began earlier this year after she was linked to several squads for 2021. Reports linked her to a new women’s Jumbo-Visma squad, Movistar, as well as her longtime Mitchelton-Scott team. Van Vleuten joined the Australian squad in 2016 and blossomed into the sport’s top athlete while riding there.
She has dominated women’s cycling over the past four seasons, winning two editions of the Giro Rosa; two editions of La Course by le Tour de France; and three UCI road world titles, among other races.
At age 37 van Vleuten said she has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. Instead, she sees herself as continuing to target big races as well as taking on a mentorship role for the Spanish squad.
“I’m not the youngest in the team anymore, but I’m super ambitious, and want to perform well for this team,” van Vleuten said. “I’m not thinking about the end of my career yet – I’m thinking about how to improve. I hope joining this team, this new environment, can help me find new energy. Other than performance, I see this as an opportunity to join a group full of great talents, young girls, that, after these three years of growth for the project, can benefit from those small things — advice — that a rider like me can possibly give them to take the next step.”
Longtime WorldTour squad Movistar launched a women’s team in 2018, and since then management has worked to attract top riders to the program. The team is one of the youngest in the UCI women’s WorldTour, with all of its riders under the age of 30.
Van Vleuten said her history with Movistar dates back to 2014 when she trained alongside the men’s squad at Sierra Nevada. That experience, she said, helped convince her that the squad was right for her.
“I got to know the team better as I shared training rides with them during my altitude camps in Sierra Nevada (Spain), back in 2014,” she said. “I really liked the experience; it felt like a ‘Spanish family’ for me, I felt really welcomed by them as they were the first professional men’s team that invited me to join them in endurance training. The atmosphere with them was so relaxing: no stress on the training, waiting for me after the climbs, and also every evening, staying together after dinner, even playing table tennis with Alejandro Valverde! (laughs)
“With regards to the women’s team, it feels the same – I look at them like a great group of girls, with the same culture as what I saw in Sierra Nevada. It’s a project that attracts me, as much as I’m looking forward to working with the head of performance Patxi Vila.”
Sebastián Unzué, manager of the women’s team, said the hiring of van Vleuten marks a turning point in the team’s history. The squad’s ability to win major races, he said, has taken a major step forward with her arrival.
“Annemiek is the ideal person to lead this project, one who depicts perfectly many of the sporting and human values this team has always wanted to instill amongst its members,” he said. “I admire her work ethic, her consistency, her honesty, her team spirit, her commitment. Her mentality fits to perfection into the way this group has always worked, and for our entire roster, both riders and staff, her arrival will be a huge step forward for us. I’ve always believed that great riders grow up better when having great examples by their side, great leaders, and our young talents will enjoy the best reflection of what it’s needed to succeed, with Annemiek being, undoubtedly, the best rider in the world.”