Road world champion Annemiek van Vleuten has said that she feels ‘less explosive’ ahead of her 2023 season debut.
The Dutchwoman has spent the past six weeks training at altitude in Colombia and will begin her final year in the pro peloton at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana on Thursday.
In a blog post shared before the race, Van Vleuten explained that she has become "more and more of a stage racer", rather than an explosive one-day specialist.
"I’ve ‘transformed’ myself more into someone of longer efforts," she said. “My one, two to four-minute efforts have become less good. I’m less explosive than I was in the past. That’s partly to do with my age and partly because I have transformed myself into a stage-race rider. You just lose some explosiveness.”
Last year, the 40-year-old enjoyed one of the most illustrious seasons of any rider in cycling history, winning the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Giro d’Italia Donne and Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta. In September, Van Vleuten stunned her rivals in the road race at the World Championships when, riding with a fractured elbow, she attacked from deep to take victory in the closing moments.
In preparation for the coming season, the Movistar rider revealed she has been working on her explosive power with biochemist Armand Bettonviel, one of the masterminds of Eliud Kipchoge’s sub two-hour marathon.
“In my training, Armand and I have tackled that explosiveness again,” she wrote. “It’s also very nice for me to not lose motivation in my final year, because we can still come up with new things.
“Armand has said that it’s a pity that I’m going to stop after this year, because we still have quite a few things to improve and time is too short for that, so it’s a pity that I only just started working with him.
“On the other hand, it is also nice to gain so much knowledge in my last year and, who knows, maybe it will also come in handy in my career afterwards.”
After Valencia, Van Vleuten will ride Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, before travelling to Italy for Strade Bianche. She will return to her native Netherlands in April to take part in Amstel Gold, a race she has never won.
“In the end, the Cauberg is only a one and a half minute effort,” Van Vleuten said of the one-day Classic's defining climb. “That’s just super explosive and it’s a completely different branch of the sport to the Tour de France, which will go up the Tourmalet this year, for example. You just can’t win everything."
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