Annemiek van Vleuten has dominated on the bike in the Tour de France Femmes, but the Dutch also made an impression next to the bike after her overall victory. In interviews with sporza and SBS there was no media-trained chatter. It even brought tears to her former colleague Gracie Elvin.
Elvin was a rider for Mitchelton-Scott (previously called Orica) from 2013 to 2020, before retiring as a pro. In her last five years with the Australian formation, she rode in this way together with Van Vleuten, who wrote the interview with Elvin at SBS, therefore, starts with a hug. This is followed by an analysis of her Tour victory, advice to young girls who want to cycle (‘have fun and don’t be perfect!’) and advice to the ASO to include a time trial in the Tour.
Van Vleuten then takes the microphone off Elvin’s hands to address her personally. “Thank you Gracie, because you’ve been part of this journey too. You were the one who started riding for the classifications with me, even when I was very inexperienced. You always made sure I was safe, so it’s very special to see you here again.”
Van Vleuten protects colleagues
Later in the evening at Vive le Velo Van Vleuten also briefly joined and again her statements were spot-on. The 39-year-old Tour winner is not happy with the constant comparison between her and her fellow riders in the peloton. Van Vleuten trains a lot and according to her not everyone should start copying her. ‘I wanted to say that out of respect for my colleagues. I sometimes find it annoying that they are told that they have to train as much as I do.’
She explains that experience and substance come with age. ‘I’m 39 and have been able to build on this for many years. Plus, it’s in my genes. I like to be a role model in different ways. You don’t have to be the perfect athlete to win the yellow jersey. Five percent of the time I sometimes eat cake, go to bed too late and drink a beer or a glass of wine. There is not one road that leads to Rome.’