Road

Leah Thomas looking to leverage experience of Annemiek van Vleuten at Movistar

Californian racer transfers to Movistar in 2021 as she sets sights on selection for U.S. Olympic team.

Leah Thomas has two main ambitions for 2021: To make the U.S. Olympic selection, and to learn from leading light of the pro peloton, Annemiek van Vleuten.

Thomas, 31, will join the decorated Dutchwoman at a revamped Movistar squad in 2021 and is relishing the prospect of learning from one of the most prolific active riders in women’s racing.

“I’m really excited to be joining Movistar for next season,” Thomas told Eurosport. “I think there will be lots of opportunities to learn and grow and contribute there and I’m really excited to work with the management and my teammates.”

“I have the opportunity now to work with a great organization and learn from one of the best riders in the world [Van Vleuten] and I’m going to try and take advantage of that as best I can.”

Thomas rode to an against-all-odds third place in a mechanical-blighted Strade Bianche this August as she started the season red-hot. However, that fire was soon put out when her Équipe Paule Ka squad announced it would be shuttering as French fashion outfit Paule Ka had failed to fulfill its financial obligations. With Thomas thrown out of contract, Movistar was quick to scoop up the Californian all-rounder as it looked to fill out a squad to support Van Vleuten.

While Thomas is uncertain of her race schedule with Team Movistar for 2021, one thing she is certain about is her desire to race for her nation at the rescheduled Toyko Olympics next summer.

“It’s hard to choose a specific race to target, I want to be strong. I really excel in races that are hard from start to finish and I want to keep doing that,” she said. “And I still want to put my best foot forward – I’m on the Olympic long team for the USA and I’d love to represent my country in Tokyo.”

Moving to a team with former world champion and two-time Giro Rosa winner Van Vleuten will provide Thomas the chance to learn from the best as she sets her sights on Tokyo.

“Annemiek is always 100 percent prepared for every race she enters,” Thomas said. “Learning how she is able to really focus on a race and what things she really keys in order to really be successful will be the major takeaways for not only me, but all the riders on our team.”