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Twenty-year-old Amalie Dideriksen of Denmark surprised her competition and even herself when she edged out Dutch powerhouse Kirsten Wild in the sprint for the rainbow jersey last Saturday with a perfectly timed sprint and bike throw.
The young Boels-Dolmans rider had dreamt of an elite rainbow jersey some time in her future but never expected it to come so soon.
She claimed the rainbow stripes twice as a junior rider, but as an elite surrounded by the star-studded field of Boels-Dolmans she’s been flying under the radar. Well not anymore! Forced into the spotlight, it’s time to get to know the young Dane.
Born and raised in the suburbs of Copenhagen, Dideriksen started cycling early, and much of Dideriksen’s earliest memories are family outings on the bike.
Inspired by her older brother, who was an active rider for the local cycling team at the time, Dideriksen started cycling competitively at the age of eight.
Despite her successes and move to the biggest team in women’s pro cycling, Dideriksen is still a member of her local club, Amager Cykle Ring and joins a club training ride whenever she has time.
“She is a very down to earth girl and is still very helpful to the youngsters in the club,” her mother testified.
As a junior, national track coach and her personal coach Martin Lollesgaard made her training more focused and it started to develop her even more, resulting in the two world titles in her junior years.
“I’d describe myself as an all-round rider who possesses good tactical skills. I am good at getting into the right position in the peloton, and I have a good sprint, which has helped me getting first over the finish line in more than a few races,” Dideriksen said.
These races included two junior world championship road races, two elite Danish national championships, the 2015 U23 European champion events in the individual pursuit and omnium on the track, and many other accolades.
Turning Pro on the biggest team in women’s cycling
It’s these successes as a junior racer that caught the attention of women’s cycling’s leading team, Boels-Dolmans, who signed Dideriksen in 2015.
Although she received many other offers, Dideriksen chose Boels-Dolmans because “the atmosphere and the team spirit of this team appeal to me and I think that these will be good surroundings for me to develop myself as a rider.”
“My ambition to combine road racing and track cycling also played a part in my decision to sign with Boels-Dolmans. Team leader Danny Stam has track experience and he can help me to fit both disciplines into my race programme properly,” Diderisken said.
In her first year as a pro, she prolonged her elite Danish road championship title; earned the best young rider in the Ladies Tour of Norway; won a stage, the points and young rider classification in the Lotto Belgium Tour; and took an impressive 25th place in her first world championships road race at the elite level, the race that her Boels-Dolmans teammate Lizzie Deignan (nee Armitstead) won.
The 2016 season had been a little less successful, losing the Danish championship jersey to 16-year-old Emma Cecilie Norsgaard (she had fallen ill, but still managed to grab silver) and only taking her first UCI win of the season in August, when she won stage 1 in the UCI2.1 Boels Rental Ladies Tour as the team’s plan B.
It was a quick change of mindset by the youngster, who was actually leading out team leader Chantal Blaak for the sprint.
“We were all together with five kilometers to go, but we got away from each other around all the corners,” Dideriksen explained. “In the end, I was behind Ellen [van Dijk], and I said to her with one kilometer to go: ‘OK Ellen, I’m on your wheel.’ She put me in the perfect position.”
In the Ladies Tour, the team went on to win the team time trial in stage 2, with Dideriksen another day in yellow. Eventually, Blaak won the overall, with Van Dijk in second place.
Her performance got her teammates joking that she’d become world champion this year, not knowing how much truth there would be in those jokes.
“She doesn’t often get her chances within our team,” Van Dijk said almost apologetically after the worlds road race, “but when she does, she obviously grabs the opportunity with both hands.”
Although she saw fewer victories this year than in 2015, Dideriksen feels she did take a step forward and developed herself as a racer this year. Her confidence was really lifted when she sprinted against Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) in the bunch sprint at the Aviva Women’s Tour stage 3.
Four riders had already sprinted for the win (Boels-Dolmans’ Deignan taking the stage win), but behind that it was a sixth place for Dideriksen. She lost the sprint to Vos, but it was a close call and she was impressed by how hard she had to make Vos work for this sprint win.
At this point, Dideriksen started to really believe in her own prowess as a sprinter.
Part of the Boels-Dolmans’ success
While we have seen little of Dideriksen on the podium, she’s been an important member of the Boels-Dolmans squad, helping the team get their first UCI victory in the team time trial at the Energiewacht Tour and then continuing on to help Ella van Dijk secure the overall win of that tour.
She was also essential to Megan Guarnier’s win in the Giro Rosa, Deignan’s Aviva Women’s Tour victory, and the team’s success at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour. When the time came to renew her contract, both Dideriksen and the team were happy to continue their relationship.
“Amalie is a true talent and a winner. Someone who can win many sprints in the future,” commented Director Sportif Danny Stam at the time.
Dideriksen isn’t just a successful road racer, she has also earned plenty of prizes and titles on the track. Most recently, she was the 2015 U23 European champion in the points race and omnium.
She developed her track skills from early on. All winters were spend on the track when she was young, as she didn’t like to go outside during the cold winters in Denmark.
While Denmark was not represented in the road races at the Rio Olympics, Dideriksen did represent her country on track. It had been one of her big goals this season, to qualify for her first Olympic Games, and she did well, finishing fifth in the omnium.
“I have been fighting for this event for years and in less than 48 hours everything was over. I enjoyed racing here [in Rio] against the best riders in the world. I’m sad it’s over but I will take a few days off and I will set new goals,” Dideriksen commented after she finished her races. “No one knows what the future brings. One thing is for sure, this has been one of the biggest experiences in my 20 year long life. If it’s up to me I will be in Tokyo in 2020 racing my second Olympic Games.””
Little did she know that just two month later, she would be taking the top step at the world road championships in Qatar.
Fun facts about Amalie Dideriksen
- Dideriksen featured in our “Day in the Life” series on June 29. You can read Dideriksen’s Day in the Life-round-up here.
- Dideriksen combines pro cycling with a special elite athletes’ highschool; Team Denmark Class. Regular high school in Denmark is 3 years and usually the team DK athletes graduate highschool in 4 years. However, Dideriksen got it even further extended to 5 years, due to her many travel days! She is always doing homework on the road and hopes to graduate next year.
- On September 17, Dideriksen was part of the three woman Voxwomen team in round 1 of the 2016 Revolution Series, where they won the team classification.
- She was nicknamed ‘Wickie the Viking’ by her teammates, after a 70s cartoon that was very popular in the Netherlands.
- Dideriksen has some pre-race rituals: she has to put her socks and shoes on in a particular way. We’re sure she put them on the right way before the road race in Qatar!
- And she doesn’t like coffee, which is quite unusual for a cyclist!
As a bonus, watch the very warm welcome Dideriksen received when she returned to Denmark as the new world champ: