Tuesday 19 September 2017

One day one photo - 19: Annemiek van Vleuten, World Champion!

The World Road Cycling Championships are currently taking place in Bergen, Norway. It's almost a week of competitions ranging from team time trials - done in riders' trade teams, through time trial races, junior, under-23 and senior men's and women's championship races in time trials and in road races.

The women's time trial was won by none other than Annemiek van Vleuten, and I was so pleased for her. Van Vleuten is the woman who had that nasty crash in the women's road race at the Rio Olympics last year. She was in the lead at the time of the crash and looked like she was on the way to winning the race. The crash looked horrific, but Annemiek escaped with concussion and a few cracked vertebrae. I say "escaped" because her injuries could have ended up a lot worse. For the Dutch racer the hardest part was dealing with the fact that she could have won this race, but instead, lost out completely.

I spoke to Annemiek a couple of months agao when I was writing a fitness article for Cycling Weekly magazine. What I noted about her was how determined and resolute she was about getting back into racing and pursuing her racing objectives. When I spoke to Annemiek in July she had already been out to Bergen and done a reconnnaisance of the course. She was extremely focused on going for the win.

I asked her how she was able to get over the trauma of what had happened to her in Rio and she said that her aim had always been to focus on the objective. She also said that she had had to deal with very difficult times in her life in the past like when her father died after a long illness some years ago. Having to cope with that, and seeing her mum have to cope with the loss of her husband had taught her to be resilient.

It is this resilience and determination that played a part in Annemiek having the amazing year that she has had, including victories in classics races, the women's Giro d'Italia, La Course by the Tour de France, and now the World Championships.

Seeing Annemiek van Vleuten get back on the horse after the massive setback she had in Rio, and tthen ride to victory is so inspirational.

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