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Dutch stars and Boels-Dolmans teammates Anna van der Breggen and Chantal Blaak both revealed their future retirement plans on Sunday, announcing their shared intentions to move into sports director roles after they hang up their respective wheels.
Van der Breggen, 30, has signed a contract extension to ride on with the team through the 2021 season, where she will focus on the rescheduled Olympics. After that, the 2016 Olympic champ and 2018 world road champ will call it a career and move into the role of coach and sports director at what will then be known as the SD Worx squad for the following three years.
“The Olympic Games in Tokyo are, of course, a great challenge and an important reason for continuing another year,” van der Breggen said via a press release. “I also want to end my career with a great, full season. Especially after this year, which was largely lost due to the corona pandemic, I am enormously motivated to continue for one more year. I’ve been thinking about a role as team leader/coach for some time. I was quickly excited about the team’s proposal. I had gradually come to realize that I was looking for a new challenge in my life.”
Blaak, also 30, will race with the squad through the spring of 2022. The 2017 world road champ will then also transition into a sports director position.
“I’ve been riding for this team for six years and I feel completely at home here. I see it as a big opportunity that after spring 2021, I will be able to continue working with Anna as sport directors of the SD Worx cycling team,” Blaak said. “In women’s cycling, it is not common for cyclists to make this step into coaching after their active career. We know that we need to grow further as a team. The level of competition is constantly going up. I particularly like the direct approach to coaching, training and nutrition. After all, we want to continue to be the number one women’s cycling in the world.”
While the eventual retirements of both former world champs will undoubtedly signal a shift for the powerhouse Boels squad, which has been a dominant force in women’s cycling for the past few years, the team is hoping that the continued presence of both riders in leadership roles will help move the organization forward.
”As a team, we want to improve every year, and we must continue to take steps in the areas of coaching, nutrition, materials and training, among others,” said team director Danny Stam. “For women’s cycling, allowing two of our best riders to advance to coaching is a revolutionary step. We have all the confidence in the world that with their input as team leader/coach, we will be able to raise the bar again.”