2021 ended in minor for Annemiek van Vleuten, but the new season couldn’t start better for the Dutch. On Saturday she won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the second time. In October, after a heavy crash in Paris-Roubaix, this still seemed like a utopia.
Annemiek van Vleuten’s season has had a dream start. Still, things did not look rosy for the Movistar rider at the beginning of October. The first Paris-Roubaix for women was a drama debut for Van Vleuten.
At 15 kilometers from the finish she crashed together with 2 riders from Parkhotel Valkenburg. The serious verdict was a double pelvic fracture and a shoulder fracture. A long rehabilitation awaited her.
Trainingsritten in Colombia
But Van Vleuten is not only extraordinary on the bike, but also off it. Barely 2 days after the fall, she was able to walk again, albeit with crutches.
First, the Dutch woman in Roubaix was advised to stay in bed for 3 weeks, but a Dutch hospital thought otherwise. Van Vleuten started her rehabilitation early.
2 weeks after the fall, Van Vleuten was back on his bike. She left the racing bike for a while, but she regularly went out with the city bike.
At the end of October, some snapshots of the Dutch rider on Spanish soil appeared on Twitter. Together with former cyclists Oscar Freire and José Iván Gutiérrez, she got used to the feeling of the racing bike again after her crash.
After some training rides in Gran Canaria, Van Vleuten went to Colombia, her favorite training location.
In Colombia the real work started again for the Dutch. She started preparing for the new season and again followed a schedule. At the beginning of December, she gave an update on her rehabilitation from Colombia via her website.
She still had the most pain in her pelvis. That meant that she had to cycle with a different saddle to reduce the pain.
But in the end Van Vleuten was in the saddle for more than 130 hours in December. A first sign that, despite her 39 years, she would still be there in 2022.
2022 Van Vleuten started how she ended 2021, namely on the bike. After 985 training kilometers in Cantabria, it was time for a training camp with Movistar in Almería.
On the side of her teammates and her male teammates, she was fully geared up for the new season.
Immediately hit in Valencia
Van Vleuten started her season with the Tour of Valencia. It was the first race after her crash in Roubaix, but she didn’t need a break-in period.
In the queen stage, Van Vleuten struck mercilessly. On the last climb of the 3rd stage, she knocked everyone out of the wheel, so she immediately took the overall victory. The peloton had been warned: Van Vleuten was back to normal.
Very strong in the Omloop, soon also in the Strade?
Despite that victory in Valencia, Van Vleuten was not the top favorite at the start in the Omloop. But as she has done several times in her long career, she managed to finish it off in a masterful way.
First she took care of the selection on the Muur, then she took off on the Bosberg alone with Demi Vollering. And although her compatriot, 14 years younger, was stronger in the sprint on paper, Van Vleuten still came out on top after a long effort.
For example, Van Vleuten opens her season with 3 victories in just 5 racing days. They will have to be from very good houses to keep her from a 3rd victory in the Strade Bianche next Saturday. And who knows what else will follow?