Rivals Vollering and Van Vleuten chart two distinct paths to the Tour

"The only thing I can do in the end is to be there on my best form and to hope that is enough to beat her" says Team SD Worx leader.

by Amy Jones

Demi Vollering and her main GC rival, Annemiek van Vleuten, are taking opposite approaches to the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

The inaugural year of the marquee event, falling just a few weeks after the Giro Rosa, sets up a bit of a conundrum. How should a contender prepare?

Vollering will line up at the Dutch national championships this weekend and that race will be the first time the 25-year-old has pinned on a number since the 22nd May, at the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas. It will be her only race before the TDFF kicks off in Paris.

Meanwhile, Van Vleuten will be racing the 10-day Giro Rosa starting next week, targeting the GC at that race before moving on to the Tour de France Femmes two weeks later.

“I did now only two times in my life the Giro and both times I was not so good coming out of the Giro,” Vollering said during a press conference on Friday. “So that was the main thing that I made the decision to not do the Giro because I am afraid to come again not super good out of the Giro. That’s something I don’t want to risk.”

“I want to be good on the last two stages at the end of the Tour. So I think it will be hard to do a good Giro and then be good again at the end of the Tour,” she added.

Although Van Vleuten will be doing exactly that, Vollering says she is not concerned by what her compatriot does to prepare for the Tour.

“I’m not really busy with how she is, I’m more focused [on] how I will be there,” she said. “That’s the only thing I can do in the end is to be there on my best form and to hope that is enough to beat her. There’s not much that you can do about that…about how she is so I’m not focusing there on that but more on myself.”

Vollering says that she will instead use the period between nationals and the Tour de France to undergo a training block at her home in Switzerland as well as possibly returning to France to recon some of the stages.

“I want to be there in my best form and I will use the coming training periods to be on my best form there,” she said.

Outside of Van Vleuten, there are plenty of other riders Vollering will need to better if she wants to stand on top of the Planche des Belles Filles in yellow at the end of July.

“I think Elisa Balsamo showed that she is really worth the world champion colours so I think she is, of course, a danger for Lotte [Kopecky] also but also for the beginning of the race [there] is Lorena Wiebes, she’s always dangerous when it’s a little bit flat. I think that’s for the beginning of the Tour,” Vollering said.  

“But later on, it will be more the riders like Kasia [Niewiadoma], Elisa Longo Borghini showed us in England that she’s really in form and of course, Annemiek will be also a big rider. Juliette Labous also showed that she’s really strong.”  

The list of true contenders is coming together and will be further informed by the racing of the next few weeks. The best path to Paris is still unknown, and won’t truly be understood until eight stages later.

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