Van Vleuten striving to start her rainbow season with flying coloursThu 13 Feb 2020
World road race champion Annemiek van Vleuten will make her race debut in the rainbow jersey later this month, as she strives to start her 2020 season with a strong Classics campaign.
The Dutch star will begin the year with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, before returning to Italy as the defending champion in Strade Bianche. The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider will then line-up at Dwars door Vlaanderen, Ronde van Vlaanderen and the trio of Ardennes races; Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and with number one pinned on her back for Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The 2019 Classics campaign was bittersweet for Van Vleuten who claimed great solo victories in both Strade Bianche and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and came agonisingly close on three occasions, with second place finishes in the iconic races, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne.
These impressively consistent results give the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider a lot of confidence and she returns with extra fire in her belly in 2020, to turn those near misses into wins.
"I really like the Classics, they are a good style of racing and always hard," Van Vleuten admitted. "Usually I am a slow starter in the Spring Classics but this time I expect to be ready for Nieuwsblad and carry that forward, so this is pretty exciting for me.
"They're all races that really suit me, I don't particularly like the weather but I can deal with it.
"I'm not racing a lot, but the races I am doing, I am really targeting. After coming so close a few times last year I am really looking forward to racing them again this year. If you come second then there is the possibility to win.
"I will be proud to wear the rainbow jersey in races, as a champion, and of course if I can win in the jersey it would be very special, but winning is always special, whether you're wearing the jersey or not."
A Bold Build-Up
The 37-year-old has enjoyed an unhindered pre-season, including multiple altitude camps in Colombia and joining the Mitchelton-SCOTT men’s January camp, with the intention of starting the 2020 season in the best shape possible.
"I think this pre-season has been my best preparation so far from the last five or six years," Van Vleuten indicated. "I have had no setbacks."
"I started with a really good off-season; happy, relaxed, going on a holiday and then the training has been going really well since then, especially going to Colombia twice, so I am really looking forward to the Spring.
"Knowing how my preparation was last year, with the big setback and injury from the 2019 world champs and still doing so well in the Classics campaign, it really gives me a bit more confidence and belief that I will be a contender in every race at the start of the season."
A Familiar Flair
Nowadays Van Vleuten is seen as a climber, understandably after her unstoppable performances in the Italian mountains, which gave her back-to-back Giro-Rosa title victories. However, the Mitchelton-SCOTT leader is much more diverse than that and is also familiar with cobbled classic success, winning Ronde van Vlaanderen back in 2011.
"I’ve won before, I know the parcours quite well and these Classics races are also special for me because they're close to my home and my mother will be there to watch and also some of my Belgian fans," Van Vleuten continued.
"It is always nice to race close to your home country and people can also now watch these races on TV. They are big impact races so I am really looking forward to starting this season well and being able to debut the jersey at the Classics."
Annemiek van Vleuten - 2020 Classics Programme:
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - 29th February
Strade Bianche - 7th March
Dwars door Vlaanderen - 1st April
Ronde van Vlaanderen - 5th April
Amstel Gold Race - 19th April
Flèche Wallonne - 22nd April
Liège-Bastogne-Liège - 26th April