A superwoman described by dutch columnist Marijn de Vries (ex women’s professional 2010-2016)
She rode alone for more than 104 kilometres.
She didn’t think much, during those 104 kilometres. Yes, she thought: “Don’t give everything in the middle part, then I have some energy left if they close it anyway. “And she thought,” Shut up. Good food, good drink. Good turns. “
It sounds unbelievable that you don’t think much if you are in the lead of one of the most important races in your life for almost three hours on your own. But it actually explains everything. Annemiek van Vleuten was in the flow. She said after the finish: “I can hardly explain how good I felt.” That is it. As if it goes without saying. Without thinking. Without feeling pain. The flow. Just like Pippi Longstocking ( Pippi was a famous child character from Scandinavia in the 60ties) would have thought of everything myself, in those two hours and 45 minutes. From the moment she drove away, I thought: this is the battle. Annemiek is going to put down a solo here in which Anna van der Breggens faded forty kilometres from last year. Then I thought: no. That is not possible. A hundred kilometres alone, that is never possible. I thought of Pippi Longstocking. And her “I’ve never done it, so I think I can do it.” A hundred-kilometre solo in a world championship, no woman had done that yet. But if someone could do it, then it was Annemiek.
I thought: what if she hadn’t fallen during the road race in Rio? What if she had taken the Olympic gold she was heading to? Had she been as good as she is now? So hungry? So eager? Had she trained so hard now, so long, so hard, to show what she can do again and again? To, as it were, keep brushing away the lost gold a little more? Switch champion I remember just after her fall in Rio I thought: how will a person ever get over this? How on earth do you pick up your sports career again? But Annemiek did not say: “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.” No, she said, “I didn’t know I could climb that well.” She started training a lot and hard and became better than she ever was.
Where many people thought she had lost the chance of her life, there now seem to be so many more chances of your life. If you only see them. And want to grab. Twice world time trial champion. And now that most beautiful sweater: that of the world champion on the road.
If after 104 kilometres she only takes off her glasses and crosses the finish line, I think: Annemiek van Vleuten is not only a world champion in cycling. She is also thinking about the personification of “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (Marijn de Vries, Editor in chief of Pedala Magazine)