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Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España. Annemiek van Vleuten is going hard in 2022.
After dialing back some of her racing commitments to focus on the Olympic Games last year, van Vleuten has sketched out a season stacked with big targets.
If all three grand tours weren’t enough, the Dutchwoman also has her eyes set on a bid for the world championships.
“The Tour de France is my biggest objective for this year, for sure,” van Vleuten said in a Movistar team presentation this week. “I like challenges, and I’ll ride the three grand tours. I’m looking forward to preparing for these grand tours together with my whole team, the riders and the staff. It will be a big new objective for all of us. I’m very proud of the development of the team and that motivates me a lot.
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“After the Tour de France, I will focus on worlds in Australia with the Vuelta as preparation. The route in Australia seems hard and so it’s good for me.”
Van Vleuten finished the 2021 season at the top of the WorldTour for the second time in her career, the only rider to achieve that. However, her season ended with a bang when she broke her pelvis in a crash at the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes.
— Movistar Team (@Movistar_Team) January 20, 2022
She will be hoping for some much better luck when she takes the start line at the Tour de France Femmes at the end of July. Despite there being no time trial at the Tour, van Vleuten will be the red-hot favorite for the maillot jaune at the end of the race.
With the most recent incarnation of the women’s Tour de France folding just as van Vleuten turned professional, it is the only one of the so-called ‘grand tours’ that she is yet to win.
Strictly speaking, the Challenge by la Vuelta is not a grand tour, but it is a race that is getting tougher with each iteration. After being bumped up to four days for last season, this year will see it expanded again to five days.
Van Vleuten won the 2021 Challenge by La Vuelta with a mighty solo raid in the Galician mountains to overhaul Marlen Reusser in the overall standings.
The first of van Vleuten’s grand tour efforts will be the Giro d’Italia Donne, which she skipped last year to prepare for the Olympics. She is a two-time winner of the race and would join a small group of two other riders to have done it on three occasions if she could do it again in 2022.
Only Anna van der Breggen and Fabiana Luperini have won it more times.
With the worlds also in her crosshairs, the 39-year-old van Vleuten shows no sign of slowing down.