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We are so pleased to have world road champion Amalie Dideriksen on 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.
- “Remember to enjoy it Amalie”
- Not above bottle duty: Amalie Dideriksen’s year ahead in the rainbow stripes
I wrote my last blog entry at the start of the spring season. I had debuted my rainbow jersey at Het Nieuwsblad and raced my first Strade Bianche. Endless weekends of racing over cobbles, through windswept fields and up short, sharp climbs lay ahead for the women’s peloton.
We blinked and it was over.
This was the first official spring classics campaign of my career. I pinned on numbers for a bunch of new-to-me races like Strade Bianche, Gent-Welvelmgem and Flanders, but there are still a few big ones that I have yet to try. I took my first (and so far only) win as world champion and learned that everything everyone had ever told me about Ronde van Vlaanderen is true … but you’ll never understand exactly what it all means until you experience it yourself.
There were highlights and lowlights. Boxes ticked. Expectations not quite met. There was tons of travel (always), teammate bonding and schoolwork wedged into every spare minute.
Here’s a reflection on my spring:
Ronde van Drenthe
I managed to achieve one of the biggest objectives of my season in the third weekend of racing. My win at Ronde van Drenthe was my first UCI Women’s WorldTour win and the first time I stood on the top step of the podium in the rainbow jersey. It’s the sort of day that melts away the days where I feel like I’ve fallen short.
When I thought about the spring, I thought about being more present and active in the race finals. I wanted the pointy end of the race game that my teammates excel at seemingly seamlessly. The depth of the Boels-Dolmans squad means that for most races we line up with multiple contenders – not just riders that could challenge for the win but riders that are defending champions or past winners or who won last week and could win next week, too. This adds confidence and a bit of pressure when you’re tapped as the protected rider like I was for Ronde van Drenthe.
Do you remember how the final played out? Were you watching? (I hope so – there’s been more women’s cycling on live streams and television this season than ever before!). Those who tuned in saw my former teammate Ellen van Dijk in a lone breakaway and my teammates setting a very fast pace on the front 20 or so rider chase group.
While they worked, I sat on and saved my legs. That free ride served as extra motivation and, I’ll admit it, a bit of extra pressure. The team was giving me the best shot possible at a result, and I didn’t want the work to go to waste.
When we caught Van Dijk, the real “game” began. I lost count of the number attacks, counter-attacks and moves marked. In the end, I slipped away in a four rider breakaway and went on to win the small group sprint from that move. I still get goose bumps when I think about what that moment meant to me.
I think one of the best parts was that I got to share that moment with my family. My mum and brother had travelled from Denmark to Holland to watch me race. I stepped off the course and into a big hug from my mum. That doesn’t happen often as Denmark doesn’t currently have any UCI women’s races, so unless I’m racing locally, I’m not racing at home. While I hope the recent surge in young Danish talent will inspire a race organiser to host a UCI race as I would love to race with Boels-Dolmans on home soil, for now, if my family wants to see me at the races that really matter, they have to travel. They couldn’t have picked a better weekend to make the trek.
Ronde van Vlaanderen
While Ronde van Drenthe proved to be all about the result, Ronde van Vlaanderen was all about the experience. Everyone tells you it’s special and that the crowds are big…but wow! I think racing Flanders for the first time is probably special for everyone, but racing it in the rainbow jersey was a truly incredible experience.
We were all in for Chantal Blaak at Flanders, so I was on domestique duty. My work was to be done in the first part and middle part of the race. I wanted to help as long as I could, and when my energy ran out and I was done helping, I got dropped and finished with the 2nd group as 21st.
The feeling of racing on the cobble sections was great. No, not the bumping around – but the riding through massive crowds of people crowded along the barriers to cheer for you. It’s unlike anything else. I can’t wait to do it again.
And yes, it’s true: Ronde van Vlaanderen is officially on the list of races I dream about winning one day.
My last race was Elsy Jacobs, and in three weeks, I’ll line up for Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik. My programme in this in-between period that separates spring from summer is lighter than some of my teammates as I will be focusing on school. I have a little less than two months until my graduation, and all my extra time is earmarked for preparing for taking exams.
Most of my classmates finished school last year. But because I have juggled full-time racing with school, I needed some extra time. My school worked with me to accommodate my unique situation, and while I really appreciate that, I’m also very much looking forward to having one less ball in the air. It will be really nice not to constantly have deadlines looming and assignments clamouring for my attention.
The increased focus on school until my exams are over means a small step back from cycling. I’ll still race and train hard, of course, but extra energy will go to school for the moment. It’s a bit of a bummer that my year in the rainbow jersey can’t be all cycling all the time, but I proud to graduate in the same year that I’m world champion.
Until next time!