Annemiek van Vleuten says that the rainbow stripes give her “extra motivation” going into her first Classics campaign as world champion.
The Classics season starts this weekend with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and Van Vleuten will be looking for her first win as world champion in her first race of the year.
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Dutch superstar Van Vleuten will be hoping to start her season with a bang after her immense ride at the Road World Championships in Yorkshire.
Last year, Van Vleuten finished fourth in Omloop behind former world champion, Chantal van den Brouck-Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Marta Bastianelli (Alé-BTC-Ljubljana) and Jip van den Bos (Boels-Dolmans).
Looking ahead to Opening Weekend, Van Vleuten said:“I know the course really well for Omloop. It will be my 11th time at the race and there are some similar climbs and cobbles to Ronde van Vlaanderen.”
In the past, we’ve seen some world champions struggle to get the wins under the dreaded ‘curse of the rainbow jersey’, but Van Vleuten isn’t letting superstition get the better of her.
“I had an amazing winter with hard training but I enjoyed it a lot,” she said. “Especially training in the rainbow jersey, it gives that extra motivation.
“I don’t feel more pressure to be racing in the rainbow jersey just more motivated. It is nice that my family are able to come to watch, it is not my home country but almost like my home country being in Belgium.”
The Mitchelton-Scott rider has just come off the back of a huge winter training block where she mainly trained alone or with the men’s team.
Sports director Martin Vestby is confident she will be in good for in her first race.
He said: “There’s always a lot of questions around everyone, we know Annemiek has been training really well and had a good winter and I expect her to come in and be in good form.
“She is really motivated for the race and it is nice when Annemiek comes into races this motivated, it brings everybody up and we know we have a strong leader to support.”