The Dutch cycling federation (KNWU) has announced some rider selections for the upcoming world championships in Wollongong, including the juniors, under-23s and the elite women’s team which has the kind of credentials to dominate both the time trial and road race.
– By Rob Arnold (Photos: Zac Williams)
The strength of women’s cycling in the Netherlands is such that selecting which riders will represent the country in the world championships is a difficult task. The Dutch lead the UCI’s nations rankings with a cast of superstars who have been racking up impressive results in the world’s biggest races.
When it’s time to race in Wollongong later this month, expect to see another troupe of orange-clad riders putting on a show, with a selection that boasts Olympic TT champion and winner of the recent Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Annemiek van Vleuten as well as the rider universally acknowledged as the greatest of all time, Marianne Vos.
These two veterans will be joined on the Dutch team for the 2022 worlds by the current hour record holder, Ellen van Dijk and one of the stars of the 2022 season, Demi Vollering.
Rounding out the selection for places in the elite women’s team that was announced by the KNWU on 1 September are 26-year-old Floortje Mackaij, the recent Simac Ladies Tour stage winner Riejanne Markus, and the Best Young Rider of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Shirin van Anrooij.
- Floortje Mackaij (Team DSM)
- Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma)
- Shirin van Anrooij* (Trek-Segafredo)
- Annemiek van Vleuten* (Team Movistar)
- Ellen van Dijk* (Trek-Segafredo)
- Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx)
- Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma)
*Denotes rider also nominated for time trial.
One notable absence includes the in-form sprinter Lorena Wiebes, the winner of 19 races so far in 2022. The repetition of climbing on the city circuit in Wollongong seems to be the reason for national coach Loes Gunnewijk to go with the selection she has.
“The course of the road race is too heavy for the real sprinters with approximately 2,600 metres in altitude in total,” explained Gunnewijk.
RIDE Media cannot confirm if anyone from the Dutch team has inspected the course in person but Gunnewijk has made her appraisal of the climbs at Mount Pleasant and says it “resembles the Cauberg but is a bit steeper”.
The Cauberg may have similarities but the big difference is that, at the top of the climb in the Dutch province of Limburg, there is a plateau. It was on that climb in 2012 that Vos claimed one of her three road race world titles.
The course in Wollongong will surely suit the Dutch team well but it’s worth noting that the steep uphill sections at Mount Pleasant are quickly followed by flatter roads or descents. From there it’s around 7-8km of flat terrain back to the site of the finish at Marine Drive near the Wollongong foreshore.
Gunnewijk knows there are options from a cast of stars and she explained her selection a few days ago.
“Annemiek has shown that she can go for the win on both climbing and difficult classic courses.
“With Marianne Vos we have an asset for the finale in which the puncheurs can come forward more.”
Like the Australian team, the Dutch selectors considered the quandary about selection in the year when there will be a separate medal awarded to the best under-23 woman (but that champion will be determined from the young riders in the elite races – both time trial and road race). Gunnewijk’s selection focussed on the priority of the elite title, but in Shirin van Anrooij the coach believes that the Netherlands “can score high in the under-23 category”, adding: “in the road race I purely looked at the strongest possible group”.
The Dutch elite men’s team is yet to be formalised, but we can expect an announcement from the KNWU in the coming days. With the women’s team, there is a strong chance of success and, as Gunnewijk concludes, “We have a strong group of riders in house and certainly also candidates to go for the world title”.
– By Rob Arnold
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