After World time trial and national MTB titles, Van Vleuten eyes track success

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Since returning home from the World Road Championships in Norway in September, newly crowned world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten has taken little time to recuperate from her career-best road season.

Barely leaving time to celebrate her rainbow stripes, the 35-year-old Orica-Scott rider jumped into a local cyclocross race before switched to mountain biking, where she crowned herself the new Dutch Marathon Mountain Bike champion last weekend.

The Dutch woman stated that her foray into these other disciplines was just ‘for fun‘, and she’s now back to serious business.

Swapping disciplines yet again, Van Vleuten will make her track debut in Berlin this week as she has set her sights on the Track World Championships on home soil in Apeldoorn in February 2018.

“My ambitions are high, if I think a world title is not possible, I will not try for the World Championships next year,” van Vleuten stated.

Taking her time trialing expertise to the oval, Van Vleuten aims to take a stab at a world title in the three-kilometre individual pursuit next year.

Van Vleuten told Dutch media that the idea to try track was influenced by her Australian Orica-Scott team, and that she started putting in her first track laps in the spring. Still, she considers herself very much a newbie and has a lot to learn. But national coach Peter Schep says her prologue expertise and winner’s mentality make up for any shortcomings she may have.

“She can dig incredibly deep. Annemiek is someone who goes for gold. She does not come on the track for seventh place,” he said.

Her first test will be the European championships, taking place in Berlin from October 19th through the 22nd. From there, Van Vleuten is set to compete at the World Cup event next month in Poland.

“After that we are going to make a decision,” said Van Vleuten. “I will only go when I see opportunities for a rainbow jersey. If not, I will focus on spring on the road.”

Van Vleuten started her season early this year with the Santos Tour Down Under. On her way to becoming the number one ranked rider on the UCI rankings, Van Vleuten had a career-best season with wins at Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Durango-Durango, the Dutch National Time Trial Championships, two stages of the Giro Rosa and both La Course events. She then capped off her road season by winning the rainbow jersey in the individual time trial and finishing fourth in the world championship road season.

In 2018, she again plans on starting her season in Australia though it will start with some well-deserved rest.

“I will park my bike somewhere and go backpacking for three weeks in Australia,” she commented.

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