FEATURE: Annemiek van Vleuten the current UCI ranked number one female riderTue 15 Aug 2017
ORICA-SCOTT’s Dutch star Annemiek van Vleuten has enjoyed one of her most successful seasons to date which has seen her recently move into top position as the number one elite women rider in the world.
After riding consistently all season, claiming an impressive six UCI race wins along with numerous podium placings, the Dutch time trial champion sees it as a pleasant reward for her handwork this season, despite not focusing on the rankings.
“It is was a nice surprise to see that I am number one athlete at the moment,” van Vleuten explained. “To be honest I am not focusing on rankings, it is not a goal for me, for me it is about winning races, but without racing everything on the calendar this season and still ending up as number one it is a nice reward for my consistency.”
“The special thing is getting lot of messages from people about this. For people outside of cycling, rankings are more important. Especially because the timing of it is crazy, being world number one on the UCI ranking exactly one year after I crashed out of the Rio Olympics is what a lot I think of people are happy to see.”
This season, the 34-year-old has shown her talents as a climber, something that she hasn’t specifically focused on in the past, and she believes that riding for the Australian outfit has enabled her to really enjoy cycling fully and get the best results out of herself in this area.
“After I showed in the Olympic road race that I could climb, ORICA-SCOTT sport director Gene Bates came with the idea to target the Giro Rosa and it took me some time to embrace this new goal and to start to believe in myself that I could do this,” van Vleuten continued.
“I had to focus more on the climbing. I had a talk with my coach Louis Delahaije, and we decided to skip the gym training I was doing and see how it would work out for me. I lost no power if I look at my time trial efforts but I lost some weight. I always thought that I did not gain much weight with gym training, but it actually saved me some weight, especially on my upper body.
“I guess at 34 years of age I am still discovering what I am able to do. I never expected to be now at my strongest, especially because I had a super good year in 2011 also a big 'down' in my career in 2012-2014 because of a narrowing in my artery in my leg.
“My results and training were going down and I lost the fun of cycling, I was only suffering with pain in my back and during training with pain in my leg. But since I joined ORICA-SCOTT I have enjoyed cycling a lot more and seen my results going up again.
“Within the team there is a good balance between working hard and having time to relax and switching off from cycling when needed. The team really support me and believe in me, even before I started to believe in myself and what I am capable of.
“It is very special and motivating to feel that I have full support from all the team. They’ve given me a lot of freedom and for me that’s maybe one of the most important thing to enjoy cycling and the way I train and prepare for races.
“I also really appreciate having the opportunity to focus on certain races, to be in the best shape and I know this way of periodisation works for me, it is great the team is behind this.”
As the world ranked number one rider heading into the final part of the 2017 season, van Vleuten has specific goals and is looking forward to the challenges of the final WorldTour stage race in her home country.
“I will race the Boels Ladies Tour, the WorldTour stage race of the Netherlands for women. This will be the last race of this season for me with ORICA-SCOTT and it starts in my hometown Wageningen with a prologue,” said van Vleuten.
“I will be very motivated to show my red white and blue national champion skinsuit there. With two time trials in the tour and two hard days in the south of Holland the general classification could be a goal this tour.”
2017 UCI victories:
- La course by La Tour de France
- Giro Rosa stage 2
- Giro Rosa stage 5
- National Championships Netherlands - time trial
- Emakumeen XXX Bira stage 5
- Durango Durango
- Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race