Anna van der Breggen – The grand finale

As part of her guest edit of Cycling Weekly magazine, Elinor Barker chose to interview double World Champion Anna van der Breggen to find out what makes her tick.

Would you rather; your child was extremely smart or extremely kind?

This is one of the questions I was most looking forward to asking Anna van der Breggen. “Would you rather” is something my teammates and I play when we’re bored on long rides or travel days. It kills time, and sometimes gives an unexpected insight to somebody you thought you knew very well.

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Katie Archibald had asked me this specific question while training that morning. We’d taken our time to weigh up the pros and cons of raising a lovable fool, versus a terrible person with the potential to one day cure cancer.

Anna chooses kindness, as had I. So there was little need for debate between us. I feel a little defeated that my big existential question hadn’t produced the long character assessment I was hoping for. But I needn’t be disappointed. Her own method of killing time in airports is ten times better than I could have dreamed of.

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Anna’s game has three simple steps. 1) Identify a stranger that you think can’t speak your language. 2) Walk up to them with a big smile on your face and give them the worst possible insult you can think of. 3) Hope you got number one right.

She laughs as she tells me that Dutch riders Jip van der Bos and Evan Burman are exceptionally good at this game. I can’t tell if I’m relieved or disappointed to find they haven’t come across a native speaker yet.

When I think of Anna Van Der Breggen, my mind becomes a montage of victory salutes, long-gutsy attacks with gritted teeth and that Imola helicopter shot. In these images, she’s the embodiment of the clichéd athletic attributes we’re told we won’t succeed without; grit, determination and a desire to win above everything else.

Read the full article in the March 4 edition of Cycling Weekly magazine, a special edition guest edited by Elinor Barker. The issue will be available in shops and online from that date. You can subscribe to Cycling Weekly magazine and have it delivered to your door for a quarterly rate of £28.99 for 12 issues.