Annemiek van Vleuten, une gagnante "venue d'une autre planète"

Annemiek van Vleuten, une gagnante “venue d’une autre planète”


Published on : 07/31/2022 – 18:19

Without competition in the mountains, the Dutch Annemiek van Vleuten easily won the first edition of the Tour de France Women of the professional era. Yet another victory in the long career of the 39-year-old Movistar rider. Portrait.

There is the peloton, the contenders for the general classification and, far ahead, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar). Imperial on the two mountain stages, the Dutchwoman won the first edition of the Tour de France Women of the professional era.

A first edition that will have been marked – is that really surprising? – the seal of the Netherlands. The Dutch nationals have raided the distinctive jerseys: yellow for Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), polka dot jersey for Demi Vollering (SDWork), green for Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and white for Shirin Van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo). They also took stage wins: six out of eight. Only Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser managed to win one. The Dutch wore the yellow jersey from start to finish.

Diminished at start of Turn

Since the retirement – ​​at just 31 years old – of her great rival, her compatriot Anna van der Breggen, at the end of last season, the 2019 world champion is almost unrivaled when the road rises. Her adversaries only seem to be able to keep up with her occasionally and always only for a while, like Demi Vollering on the Markstein stage. A stage that the winner of the 2022 Tour literally flew over, attacking the slopes of the first pass and completing the last 60 kilometers alone, rejecting the second at three minutes and the third at more than five minutes.

“It may have seemed easy but I assure you that it was not. I surprised myself,” she assured with a smile on arrival. “It’s been such a rollercoaster. I’ve been so sick. Winning like this is amazing. And it’s wonderful to finish here solo.”

In the last stage, she once again disgusted her opponents by dropping them at the foot of the Super Planche des Belles filles to offer herself a prestigious victory in the already legendary ascent of the Vosges, all in yellow.

The huge favorite of the Tour, already crowned with a victory in the Tour of Italy in early July, still had a complicated week. Not because of attacks from his opponents but because of a bad gastrointestinal virus. Unable to drink and feed on her mount, she repeatedly considered giving up.

“I had my worst days on a bike,” she said in particular, without modestly detailing the details of her ordeal.

By bike to make up for student evenings

Born in Vleuten in the Netherlands, Annemiek van Vleuten says she became interested in cycling at the age of eight, developing a passion for the Tour de France which she watched on TV. If her parents have no particular interest in the little queen, she imagines herself in the shoes of champions by covering the seven kilometers of the way to school every morning.

However, it is first and foremost football that has his preference. But recurring knee injuries keep him out of the green rectangle for good at the age of 23. She then started cycling “to eliminate the superfluous kilos from student evenings”, as she recounts in a portrait produced by the organizer ASO on the occasion of the first Tour de France Women.

The tests she takes at the time detect her abilities worthy of the Dutch national team. The beginning of a long professional career that will see her win almost everything. Among others: three Tours of Italy, the Tour of Flanders (2011, 2021), the Strade Bianche (2019, 2020) and La Course by Le Tour (2017, 2018). And she is world champion in 2019.

One of the rare gaps in his list remains the road race of the Olympic Games. A title that she believed to hang twice. In 2016, as she flew to a gold medal, she suffered a heavy fall. In Tokyo in 2021, she raises her arms on the line… While the survivor of the morning break, the Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer, had actually won the event.

The yellow jersey, she admits never having dreamed of it until the start of the Tour: “For me, at the start, the yellow jersey was more something that was reserved for boys, so I had no connection special with,” she explains. “And then I saw Marianne Vos with it,” she adds with a smile.

>> To read also: Tour de France Women: Marianne Vos, yellow jersey and stainless all-terrain champion

Full on training

But what is her secret to being so strong? She comes “from another planet”, says Evita Muzic (FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope). “It’s a machine, it’s a UFO, it comes from another planet”, also says Iris Slappendel (former teammate turned consultant). “I would like to be sick like her”, teases Juliette Labous.

“This stage was cut out for me, I trained like crazy for this kind of stage, which suits me perfectly”, explains the person concerned.

And for good reason, Annemiek van Vleuten works a lot in training. She likes to collect outings of more than 300 kilometers, to train with the men of Movistar. At the end of 2020, she published an impressive annual report on the sports social network Strava: nearly 33,000 km traveled and 175,000 meters of altitude difference swallowed. More than some men in the pro peloton.

For her penultimate year, Annemiek van Vleuten had announced that she wanted to compete in the three Grand Tours (Italy, France and Spain) and win them. She is now two-thirds of the way to her goal, which she will try to complete at the Certizit Challenge by La Vuelta in September.

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