By covering 1,033.6 kilometers in 26 hours and 55 minutes, Annemiek van Vleuten outclassed her competitors in the Tour de France Women, a stage cycling race that had not been organized since… 1989. The leader of the Spanish team Movistar thus pockets just over 60,000 euros in bonuses: this is almost ten times less than the winner of the men’s Tour de France, a week earlier, the Dane Jonas Vingegaard.
In the land of tulips, the hopes of cycling flourish. The Dutch have won six of the eight stages of the Women’s Tour de France and have appropriated all the distinctive jerseys: the yellow (general classification) by Annemiek van Vleuten, the one with red dots (best climber) by Demi Vollering, the green (classification by points) for Marianne Vos and white (best youngster) by Shirin van Anrooij. Full box.
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At ease on the hills, Annemiek van Vleuten is not afraid of steep drops. As a dancer on her bike, she widened the gap thanks to her well-placed attacks on the slopes of the Vosges. Between Sélestat and Le Markstein, this outstanding climber even completed the last 60 kilometers alone, leaving her pursuers far behind.
These moments of glory come after many physical glitches. Because she chained knee injuries, Annemiek van Vleuten had to put an end to her football career at 23 years old. She also underwent three operations on the iliac artery, in the abdomen, and cracked her pelvis on Paris-Roubaix in 2021.
5. Time Trial
The one who will celebrate her 40th birthday on October 8 collects trophies. On the clock, three world champion titles, three Giros (Tour of Italy), two Tours of Flanders, and an Olympic gold medal in the time trial in Tokyo in 2021. Her first time, she did it confronted as a child on the seven-kilometre road between his home and his school. Annemiek van Vleuten was born in 1982 in the village of… Vleuten, near Utrecht.
In another life, the runner earned a master’s degree in epidemiology at Wageningen University. Her lessons fascinate her, but she can’t bear having to lock herself in a room to write her dissertation. On campus, she parties two to three times a week. Initially, if she buys a bicycle, it’s for “control the superfluous kilos of student parties”.
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At the Rio Olympics in 2016, the gold medal seems destined for him. But, while she was leading, the Dutchwoman lost control in a bend and hit the concrete curb violently. Inanimate, she remains on the ground and sees her dream slipping away. From the hospital where she treats her fractures, she says to herself ” very disappointed after the best race ” of her career.
That day, she wears a pair of earrings offered for her 18th birthday by her father, who died of cancer. After her fall, she confides to her mother that this gift did not bring her luck. ” On the contrary, these earrings saved your life she replied. They have never left her since.
In 2021, she believes she holds for good this Olympic title in road racing which is missing from her list. In Tokyo, Annemiek van Vleuten crossed the finish line raising her arms to the sky, thinking she was the winner… Except that she did not know that the Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer had already beaten her a minute earlier. A confusion which is explained by the absence of headsets during this test.
This relentless worker chose Colombia and its passes at 4,000 meters in altitude to practice climbing. ” If I suffer so much, it’s because I’m progressing », philosophizes the one who has traveled 33,000 kilometers by bike in 2020 alone. Her thirst for performance and the pleasure she feels in training will push her to pedal until the end of 2023, when she has announced that she wants to to retire.