The Dutch cycling federation today announced its team selection for the Olympic Games in Rio with Marianne Vos and Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) as the team’s leaders.
Also confirmed for the orange squad are Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-AIS). In addition to the road race, Van Dijk and Van der Breggen will compete in the individual time trial.
Up until today’s announcement, Vos’ Olympic appearance had been widely questioned. The Olympic champion in 2012, Vos had been plagued by injuries the past two years, only just making her comeback this spring. But she seems to be in good form, winning the Pajot Hills Classic and the 7 Dorpenomloop in Aalburg.
Anna van der Breggen
Van der Breggen meanwhile had an incredible season in 2015, which saw her win races like Flèche Wallonne, the Dutch national time trial championships, Giro Rosa and La Course. She also took home three medals at the UCI World Championships in Richmond. Much was expected of her this season, and despite a slow start to the year, Van der Breggen was back on the top step of the podium at Flèche Wallonne. The Rio Olympics will be her first Olympic experience.
Ellen van Dijk
After some bad luck and a broken collarbone last season, Van Dijk has been very motivated to put down some good results this year. While the hilly time trial course in Rio does not typically suit her strengths, she has been working hard with good results. She won the individual time trial and general classification at Energiewacht Tour as well as a stage at the Ladies Tour of Qatar.
Van Vleuten makes the cut, Blaak misses out
And lastly, the selection of Annemiek van Vleuten came as a bit of a surprise to us and to anyone who’s been following Chantal Blaak’s incredible spring season. Currently ranked second in the Women’s WorldTour, the Boels-Dolmans rider won Gent-Wevelgem, Ronde van Drenthe, Le Samyn, and a stage in the Energiewacht Tour. She’s been a strong finisher in all other races she entered, with an additional three UCI podiums to boot.
“Hugely disappointed! I’m not (pre-)selected for Rio. I’ve done everything I could and I can not blame myself” Blaak responded to the news on Twitter.
In the Dutch newspapers, national coach Johan Lammerts defending his selection, stating “It’s a bummer for Chantal, but I think [Van Dijk and Van Vleuten] will fare better on the tough course in Rio. In my eyes this is the best team with a chance of success.”
“Rio was really a goal for me this year. Part of my season was planned around it. That is not going to happen now and I do find it quite difficult . However, I will have to hit reset because I have to be there for my Boels – Dolmans team,” she said.
With that said, the selection of Van Vleuten isn’t completely out of the blue. She was always a contender. A very talented and an experienced team rider, Van Vleuten has ridden in support of Vos at various World Championships as well as the London Olympics. She recently won the prologue at Elsy Jacobs (her first UCI win in the Orica-AIS colours) and finished second in the general classification of the Energiewacht Tour.
The Olympic road race will take place on Sunday, August 7th. The individual time trial will be a few days later on Wednesday, August 10. Read more about Rio and the courses, here.