Tweets of the week: So much for retirement, Annemiek van Vleuten is back racing

She's conquered the road, now she's after the mud

Annemiek van vleuten eating an energy gel
(Image credit: Getty Images / X (@AvVleuten))

Less than a week into her retirement, Annemiek van Vleuten has found herself back on the start line, competing in a bike race. 

It was inevitable, really. The 41-year-old enjoyed an illustrious 16-year career in which she won almost all of the cycling's major prizes. Tour de France, tick. World Championships, tick. Olympics, tick. 

Still, there was a title that eluded her, one beast still to be slain: the Vorden Kasteelcross, a Dutch national league cyclo-cross event. 

Under an amateur racing license, Van Vleuten donned all-black, sponsor-free kit, and braced the winter chill, in search of another feather for her hat. 

She cut through the mud, zigzagged through the forest, and squeezed her way past her competitors. The feather, however, would not be hers. 

The Dutchwoman placed 17th on her racing return, the 60km commute she made by bike to get there unlikely to have provided the winning preparation. 

Regardless, she rode with an unshakeable smile. “Had a super fun day in Vorden,” she wrote on X afterwards. “Thanks for organising this nice cyclocross and everyone for cheering. 

“Saw some nice young talents today especially at age 15-16 years. Impressed!” 

It’s a promising sign for Dutch cycling, but worrying perhaps for Van Vleuten. With the rise of the starlets, she'll be up against even fiercer competition next year. She might never claim the Vorden crown. 

Cyclo-cross dealt mixed fortunes to riders this past week. While Zoe Bäckstedt won an obscenely sized box of chocolates in Zonhoven, Lucinda Brand rearranged her face and ended up in hospital. 

Elsewhere on social media, Ben Healy has been modelling, Julian Alaphilippe has been cheeky, and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Ryan Mullen has a new nickname. 

1. There's a new rider on the cyclo-cross block

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2. It's going to take Zoe Bäckstedt a while to eat all that chocolate (scroll to the final pic in gallery)

3. Meanwhile, poor Lucinda Brand has been eating dirt 

4. dsm-firmenich PostNL launched their new kit this week. They must have forgotten they already launched it last November

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5. A better question, perhaps, is why are they posing in a florist's? 

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6. Grace Brown's biggest fan is... Grace Brown

7. A reminder for all us Northern Hemisphere dwellers that this is what January looks like in Australia. Seems unfair, really

8. Arms in the air if your mum's a three-time time trial world champion 

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9. Faas isn't the only child hanging out with cyclists

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10. Ben Healy is "enjoying his new white socks", but not that hairdryer in his face

A post shared by Rapha (@rapha)

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11. Introducing Ryan 'Rhino' Mullen

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12. Who says cyclists have spaghetti arms? 

13. Me when I'm minding my own business and a driver cuts me up

14. And finally, here's GB men's endurance coach Ben Greenwood with his best Jürgen Klopp impression

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