Cobbles, climbs and consistency in the classicsMon 24 Apr 2017
The Classics season came to a close yesterday, but for ORICA-SCOTT’s Dutch star Annemiek van Vleuten it marks the beginning of an new era and an exciting future for the women’s peloton.
For the first time in history, Liege-Bastogne-Liege held a race for women and it concluded a comprehensive Spring campaign that included combined men’s and women’s races at Liege, Flèche Wallonne, Amstel Gold Race, Tour of Flanders, Gent Wevelgem and Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
Speaking after her gutsy ride in the inaugural women’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege where she finished in a respectable fifth place, Van Vleuten said the inclusion of these prestigious spring races has really been a positive progression for the sport.
“I think it is a big step up for women’s cycling to have these new WorldTour races,” Van Vleuten explained. “It is important for us to have the same WorldTour races as the guys, especially in the spring and I think Amstel Gold Race is the best example of how the races should be.”
“We had the same start time and sign on as the men and also the final 45minutes were shown on television. The crowds were amazing at the start and I still get goosebumps when I think of that, so hopefully there will be more races in the future like that.
“I think people can really see that our races are really interesting and women’s racing is improving in many different ways.”
After displaying great form and consistent riding throughout the spring races, ORICA-SCOTT achieved numerous podium placings with different riders proving the team’s diverse strength and depth. This ultimately enabled the Dutch rider to move to the top of the UCI Women’s WorldTour rankings, a pleasant reward for their relentless efforts.
“I am really proud that I was there in the final of each race, I never had a bad race,” Van Vleuten continued. “Of course it could have been better if we could have had a win with the team but I am still very proud. It is not always easy to be there every time in the final, you have to focus a lot.”
“We have been able to finish with different girls on the podium in these WorldTour races and for Gracie Elvin it was a big step up. She was really happy with her second place in Flanders and I think we really have stepped up as a team altogether and I expect even more from us. I actually think Katrin Garfoot and myself can do even better.
“The whole team really improved this spring. The younger girls on the team like Jess Allen and Jenelle Crooks, it is their first full season in the pro peloton, so I am very happy with how everyone has been racing. We are always at the front and when we have to work before the climbs the girls are always there.
“I think the Tour of Flanders was a standout race for us as a team. I was thinking of the victory with just one-kilometre to go and we had a really good chance to win the race. Even when my group was caught with less than one-kilometre to go Gracie still came second.”
With a stellar list of palmarès to her name, including a victory in the Tour of Flanders, the 34-year-old is not finished yet as she dreams of the opportunity to race in more prestigious events - should they be added to the women’s racing calendar in future.
“I have the feeling that women’s cycling is really progressing,” expressed Van Vleuten. “They recently announced the changes for La Course and hopefully we will continue to see more changes.”
“Maybe next year we could have Paris-Roubaix. That race is high on my wish list, I always said I would never quit before riding Paris-Roubaix so I hope we have the chance to race it soon.”
We wish the new WorldTour leader the best of luck for the rest of the 2017 season.
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