Tour de France Femmes : Annemiek van Vleuten, une gagnante “venue d’une autre planète”

Tour de France Femmes : Annemiek van Vleuten, une gagnante "venue d'une autre planète"

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With no competition in the mountains, Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten easily won the first edition of the Women’s Tour de France of the professional era. One more victory in the long career of the 39-year-old Movistar cyclist. Portrait.

Here is the peloton, the contenders for the general classification and, far ahead, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar). Imperial in the two mountain stages, the Dutchwoman won the first edition of the Women’s Tour de France of the professional era.

A first edition that will have been marked, is it really surprising? – the stamp of the Netherlands. The Dutch team has stormed the distinctive jerseys: yellow for Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), polka dot jersey for Demi Vollering (SDWork), green for Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and white for Shirin Van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo). They also scored stage wins – six out of eight. Only Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser managed to win one. The Dutch wore the yellow jersey from start to finish.

Decreased at start of turn

Since the retirement – at just 31 years old – of her great rival, her compatriot Anna van der Breggen, at the end of last season, the 2019 world champion has almost no rival when the road is lifted. Her adversaries only seem to be able to keep up with her occasionally and always just for a while, like Demi Vollering on the Markstein stage. A stage that the winner of the 2022 Tour literally flew over, attacking the slopes of the first step and completing the last 60 kilometers alone, rejecting the second at three minutes and the third at more than five minutes.

“It may have seemed easy but I assure you it was not. I surprised myself, ”she assured with a smile upon arrival. “It’s been a roller coaster ride. I’ve been so sick. Winning like this is unbelievable. And it’s wonderful to finish here alone.”

In the last stage, he upset his opponents again by leaving them at the foot of the Super Planche des Belles filles to offer himself a prestigious victory in the already legendary ascent of the Vosges, all in yellow.

The huge Tour favourite, already crowned with victory at the Tour of Italy in early July, still had a tough week ahead of him. Not because of the attacks of his opponents but because of a bad gastrointestinal virus. Unable to drink and feed from his mount, he repeatedly considered giving up.

“I had my worst days on a bike,” he said in particular, without modestly elaborating on the details of his ordeal.

By bike to make up for student afternoons

Annemiek van Vleuten, born in Vleuten, the Netherlands, says she became interested in cycling at the age of eight and developed a passion for the Tour de France that she watched on television. If her parents have no particular interest in the little queen, she imagines herself in the shoes of champions traveling the seven kilometers to school every morning.

However, it is first and foremost football that has his preference. But recurring knee injuries keep him out of the green box forever at the age of 23. She then began to ride a bicycle “to eliminate the superfluous kilos of student afternoons”, as she recounts in a portrait made by the organizer ASO on the occasion of the first Women’s Tour de France.

The tests he takes at that time detect his skills worthy of the Dutch national team. The beginning of a long professional career that will see her win almost everything. Among others: three Tours of Italy, the Tour of Flanders (2011, 2021), the Strade Bianche (2019, 2020) and La Course by Le Tour (2017, 2018). She and she is world champion in 2019.

One of the rare gaps on his list remains the Olympics road race. A title that she believed hung twice. In 2016, while flying towards a gold medal, she suffered a serious fall. In Tokyo in 2021, she raises her arms on the line … While the survivor of the morning break, the Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer, had won the test.

The yellow jersey, he admits he never dreamed of until the start of the Tour: “For me, at the beginning, the yellow jersey was more something that was reserved for children, so it didn’t have any special connection,” he explains. “And then I saw Marianne Vos with him,” she adds with a laugh.

>> To also read: Women’s Tour de France: Marianne Vos, yellow jersey and all-terrain stainless steel champion

full of training

But what is his secret to being so strong? She comes “from another planet”, says Evita Muzic (FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope). “She’s a machine, she’s a UFO, she’s from another planet,” says Iris Slappendel (former teammate turned consultant). “I wish I was sick like her,” Juliette Labous jokes.

“This stage was made for me, I trained like crazy for this type of stage, which suits me perfectly,” explains the interested party.

And for good reason, Annemiek van Vleuten works hard in training. He likes to collect rides of more than 300 kilometers, to train with Movistar’s men. At the end of 2020 she published an impressive annual report on the sports social network Strava: almost 33,000 km traveled and 175,000 meters of elevation gain swallowed. More than some men in the pro peloton.

For her penultimate year, Annemiek van Vleuten had announced that she wanted to compete in all three Grand Tours (Italy, France and Spain) and win them. He is already two thirds of the way towards his goal, which he will try to complete in the Certizit Challenge by La Vuelta in September.

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