The Tour de France Femmes was Annemiek van Vleuten’s final big goal as a professional cyclist but not her final bow, with the Dutch rider announcing that after the World Championships road race on Sunday she’ll be continuing on with a series of criteriums and two stage races, the Tour of Scandinavia and the Simac Ladies Tour.
Van Vleuten first defended her Giro d’Italia Donne title in July and then the Movistar rider put all her focus on defending yellow, and while it didn’t work out the way she had hoped it was perhaps the passing of that goal, rather than just the result, that left her walking away from the French Tour with a flood of emotion.
“I realised that it was the very last goal that I completely committed myself to and worked towards,” Van Vleuten, who came fourth over in France, in a post on her blog. “That is something I have always enjoyed doing. Make a plan and try to get my best possible level. I have to say that for the Tour that actually worked out, except … the last two days. The first six days were great.”
“The tears I showed after the final time trial were also because I realised before the Tour that that race was my very last major goal, which I worked towards. I came home with that mix of emotions. That was quite difficult, because I came home with that disappointment, but also with even more emotions around it. Then I started thinking about what’s to come.”
The 40-year-old wasn’t quite ready to walk away from her career yet and will be handing on her rainbow jersey and taking the World Championships road race in a support role on Sunday before racing in three criteriums – the derny criterium in Antwerp on Monday, on Tuesday the Valstar Wielerspektakel van Naaldwijk and on Sunday the Profronde van Etten-Leur in the Netherlands.
“Unfortunately, there are no races on our calendar that really appeal to me or are made for me,” said Van Vleuten. ”But stopping after the Tour, I didn’t feel like it either. I still want to race. I talked to my team, trainer and mental coach about what I would ride last races. We then decided to ride the Tour of Scandinavia and to close it very symbolically in-house, in the Simac Ladies Tour, at the beginning of September.”
The Simac Ladies Tour has the added bonus of tieing to her past, when she was just starting out and drove there to race as a guest rider for the Therme Skincare team, though this time she’ll be hoping the race will play out differently and not end after…