‘Remember to enjoy it, Amalie’: Dideriksen, on kicking off new season in rainbow stripes

by Amalie Dideriksen


We are so pleased to welcome world road champion Amalie Dideriksen to our team of Ella contributors.

The 20-year-old Dane surprised the world and herself last fall when she outsprinted race favourite Kirsten Wild to take her biggest win of her career yet and wrote herself into the cycling history books as the second youngest women’s world champion ever.

Riding this season with those iconic rainbow bands across her chest, she’s gone from being a largely invisible domestique to a feared sprinter. What impact will this have on her life, her position in the team and the peloton, along with her goals for the future?

She’ll blog about her rainbow journey here.

| Related: Not above bottle duty: Amalie Dideriksen’s year ahead in the rainbow stripes


 

After a winter spent dutifully training for the upcoming road season, it was nice to get the season started late last month. I had originally hoped to debut the rainbow jersey at Ladies Tour of Qatar, where I won my stripes, but when that race was cancelled, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was set as my season debut.

I have now done three races as the world champion: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Omloop van het Hageland (both 1.1 UCI races) and Strade Bianche (the first Women’s WorldTour race of this season).

I raced both Nieuwsblad and Hageland before, two years ago, as my first elite European races. Two years ago may not seem like a long time, but it feels like a lifetime ago. Of course I’m still riding for the same team, feeling the same mix of nervousness and excitement before the start of a race, and having the usual pre-race discussion with my teammates about exactly how much clothes to wear…but as much as some things never change, other things have changed entirely.

When I think back my first Het Nieuwsblad in 2015, I remember stepping out of the team bus feeling proud to wear the Boels-Dolmans jersey but freaking out about not having done any warm up at all. I would later learn that warming up isn’t something that happens regularly, and I might as well get used to warming up during the opening kilometers.

Two years ago, I would watch my teammates signing rider cards and photos that fans eagerly shoved into their hands. I only had a few requests.

Now I step out of the bus proudly sporting the Boels-Dolmans jersey, this year with the rainbow bands, and people actually want my autograph, too – some even on the photo cards from the previous years, which I find a little funny.

Before I left Denmark, my mum said to me: “Remember to enjoy it, Amalie. You’re only going to have one first race in the jersey.” That first race wasn’t how I dreamt it would be, but I’d like to think my mum’s advice helped me embrace the experience anyway.

I never expected to win Nieuwsblad or anything like that, but I had hoped to show the jersey in a nice way and to be there as long as possible with my teammates. Instead, I got caught up by an early crash on one of the first climbs, and I didn’t have the legs to come back. My teammate Chantal finished second. I ended up as number 44.

Being behind the first group was a little hard mentally. My personal expectations had me hoping for better, but I also know that everyone knows the jersey and expects the jersey to be at the front.

Hageland the following day was better. It finished in a sprint. As it was downhill and tailwind it wasn’t the ideal situation for me but I snuck into the top ten. More important than the result, I’m happy that I had a better feeling during the race. It is always nice return home with a good feeling.

Strade Bianche was this past weekend, and it was my first time riding the Italian one-day Classic. I had my first press conference, if you don’t count the post-race press conferences at the World Championships. They had me face journalists alongside Peter Sagan, and I have to admit, Sagan got a lot more questions than me, but it was a cool experience.

With the only two Strade Bianche winners on my team in Lizzie Deignan and Megan Guarnier, my job was clear: help our leaders. I did my best. I crashed, but I’m happy with how I helped the team. Even though I wasn’t amongst the first riders, riding the last 1000 meters uphill through the small streets of Siena with people cheering from the side was an experience I won’t forget. Strade Bianche is definitely a race firmly on my “have another crack” list for the future.

All in all, it’s been a solid start for me as the 2016 world champion. I’m proud of the jersey, and I want to enjoy my season it it. I hope to develop throughout the year, in the same way I’ve done in the last few years.

Until next time!
Amalie

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