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Annemiek van Vleuten questions retirement plans after worlds victory: ‘Sometimes I have doubts’

Dutchwoman raises prospect of postponing planned retirement: 'It's not about winning, but the urge to improve myself.'

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Annemiek van Vleuten isn’t slowing down as she approaches her 40th birthday.

Van Vleuten told Dutch television Monday that her beyond-belief victory at the Wollongong road worlds had her reconsidering previous plans to retire at the end of next season.

“Sometimes I start to have doubts, yes,” Van Vleuten said of her decision to hang up her cleats next winter.

Van Vleuten netted what she hailed her “greatest ever victory” when she attacked out of the bunch in the final kilometer of Saturday’s road worlds.

The 39-year-old’s second road race rainbow jersey put a golden cap on what could also be her greatest ever season.

Also read: Annemiek van Vleuten celebrates greatest victory at road worlds

Victories from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring through to a sweep of titles at Giro Donne, Tour de France Femmes and Ceratizit Challenge by la Vuelta in the summer saw the Movistar captain batting away riders 15 years her junior and reconfirming herself as the dominant force in the women’s peloton.

“I would prefer to retire if I think ‘I’m starting to get weaker now.’ But this is really my best year ever,” Van Vleuten said during her appearance on Jinek.

“I will be 40 next week, which is really unbelievable. But it’s my driving force to get better. It’s not about winning, but the urge to improve myself.”

‘There’s still disbelief’

Annemiek van Vleuten is congratulated by her teammates
The disbelief continues some time later. (Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images)

Van Vleuten wrote a remarkable chapter in her long and illustrious career when she defied the odds to win a world title with a broken elbow Saturday.

The Dutchwoman was in disbelief at the finishline in downtown Wollongong and remained so 48 hours later when she spoke on Jinek.

“After that crash, I had completely said goodbye to the idea that I could become world champion,” she said.

Van Vleuten claimed the seventh road race world title in 11 years for the Dutch after starting the day as superdomestique for 2012 and 2013 rainbow jersey Marianne Vos.

“I had set myself 100 percent to be a servant for Marianne. It wasn’t until the last kilometer that I thought there might be a chance that I could go home with this jersey with my broken elbow. The first thing I felt the next day was ‘what have I done with my elbow?’ But then I thought, ‘yes, that elbow, but I am also world champion,'” she said.

“There’s still disbelief. I had completely parked the belief that I could win. I spent 159 kilometers doing work for Marianne, just to be able to finish the worlds with a good feeling.”