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Annemiek van Vleuten has opened the book to what could be the final chapter of her illustrious career.
The dominant Dutch rider has joined her new Movistar colleagues at a combined men’s and women’s training camp in Almería in Spain, where she is meeting around 100 riders and staff from the two squads.
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“It is all-new, with many new people,” she wrote on her personal blog. “The first day [of camp] I felt like I was experiencing my first day at a new school.”
2021 will mark the first of van Vleuten’s two years with Team Movistar having moved across after a long spell with Mitchelton-Scott. At 38, it could be van Vleuten’s final team before she hangs up her wheels for retirement.
Together with team brass, van Vleuten has sketched out a Spanish-tinted provisional schedule for the year in what makes for a nod to her new team.
The European champ is slated to start her season at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana mid-February before following a busy classics program that includes Strade Bianche, Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After a block of one-day Spanish races through May, van Vleuten will take on La Course, Giro Rosa, and Olympic Games through summer.
Van Vleuten said that while the two-week camp involved the usual meet-and-greets, admin duties and bike fitting on her favored Canyon Aeroad disc bike, she was hitting the training hard.
Along with riding alongside new teammates and fellow fresh signings California-native Leah Thomas and promising Dane Emma Cecilie Norsgaard, the former world time trial champ has also joined the men’s squad for a time trial session, and plans for more workouts with the men.
“I will participate in training a few times with some men,” she wrote. “This will be with the sprinters and classics riders, because it is already a challenge for me to keep up with them.”
Van Vleuten now has little more than one month to pin down her bike fit and put the final touches on her form before her debut with the team. It will make for a pivotal season that provides van Vleuten her final opportunity to add an Olympic medal to her illustrious palmarès.
“The first feeling was right and I feel very welcome,” she wrote. “The first few days I receive confirmation that I have ended up in a warm and very professional environment.”
Provisional 2021 schedule:
- Setmana Ciclista Valenciana (February 18-21)
- Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 27 )
- Strade Bianche (March 6)
- Tour of Flanders (April 4)
- Amstel Gold Race (April 18)
- La Fleche Wallonne (April 21)
- Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 25)
- Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar (May 9)
- Emakumeen Nafarroako Women’s Elite Classics (May 11)
- Navarra Women’s Elite Classics (May 12)
- Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria (May 18)
- Vuelta a Burgos Feminas (20-23 May)
- National Championship time trial (June 16)
- National Championship road race (June 19)
- La Course by Le Tour de France (June 27)
- Giro Rosa (July 2-11)
- Olympic Games road race (July 25)
- Olympic Games time trial (July 28)