A year ago, Amber Kraak (Jumbo-Visma) was hunting mountain points at the 2022 Tour of Scandinavia, eventually taking home the peacock jersey. In the 2023 edition, the 29-year-old Dutchwoman focused on a good overall result and finished on a GC podium for the first time in her career.
“I am a bit nervous, but it’s also exciting,” Kraak told Cyclingnews ahead of the final stage from Middelfart to Haderslev.
Her 18-second lead down to fourth-placed Liane Lippert (Movistar) was not threatened on stage 5, and Kraak enjoyed the podium presentation next to overall winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team) and GC runner-up Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ).
Kraak is a lateral entrant to pro cycling, having moved across from rowing. She signed with Jumbo-Visma halfway through the 2021 season and has progressed step by step since, from starting as a pure support rider to getting her own chances – which resulted in a second place at the 2022 Classic Lorient Agglomération, and now becoming her team’s GC leader.
“Going for the QOM jersey last year with the team’s support, including from Marianne Vos, was my first attempt at performing every day in a stage race. And we have built on that since.”
This year, she finished 11th in the Itzulia Women and ninth in the Tour de Suisse Women before placing 17th in the Tour de France Femmes. In Switzerland and France, Kraak’s time trial was a big part of her GC results, and in the Tour of Scandinavia, she moved up from fifth to third overall thanks to her result in the Herning ITT where she finished second on the day, only beaten by Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ).
“That was the sixth ITT in my career, and so far, I have improved every time. I still want to get even better, but that is something to work on for next year,” Kraak made clear that her progression had not finished yet.