Annemiek van Vleuten will end her sparkling professional cycling career at the Simac Ladies Tour, set to take place from September 5-10 in the Netherlands. It’s a race that she holds close to her heart as not only do parts of the route pass her long-time training roads, but the home nation event also played a part in helping to ignite her career more than sixteen years ago.
“You have to say goodbye to this part of my life, that I will not come back anymore,” Van Vleuten said in an interview published on Youtube by her Movistar Team on Monday, the eve of the Simac Ladies Tour.
“I started racing in 2007 with some small criteriums, and as a stagiaire, I did the Holland Ladies Tour [Simac Ladies Tour] in 2007 for the first time. It was only one day because I crashed out after one day; my skills were not so good yet,” Van Vleuten said.
“It’s good to end my career there and that it’s also very close to my home. It felt special because it had my name written all over the place, with a prologue near my home, and the last race is in my training area in Arnhem, which is also close to where I grew up and the place where my mother still lives in Vorden, so it just feels like a nice way to say goodbye.”
Van Vleuten came into her final season with an ambitious goal of winning all three Grand Tours, and while she succeeded at La Vuelta Femenina and the Giro d’Italia Donne, she was disappointed to have finished just off the podium in fourth place at the Tour de France Femmes. However, at the end of the stage 8 time trial in Pau, she was surrounded by all of her teammates as they chanted her name and delivered congratulatory hugs. Van Vleuten said it was an emotional and memorable moment.
“The team, how they waited for me at the finish line, was heartbreaking. And it continued, actually, also in the World Championships [Glasgow in August]. People said, ‘thank you’. Thank you to me. When I was just chasing my goals, so many people enjoyed my style of racing and said that they would miss it. That is super special for me to hear and so emotional. I can leave the sport proud. Thank you to all the people that said, ‘thank you,’ because it means a lot.”
Since joining the pro ranks in 2008, Van Vleuten’s name has become synonymous with her aggressive racing style, audacious solo attacks and victories across Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games.
“She revealed that while she was driven by training data and results at a young age, in both sports…