Annemiek van Vleuten is to skip the Dutch national championships for the first time in 15 years in order to focus on her preparation for the Giro d'Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes.
The Movistar rider also confirmed that she will targeting the general classification at both the Giro and the Tour, which would amount to a historic double if she won both. 2022 will see the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes, a new race, the first time a women's Tour has been held, in association with the men's race, since 1989.
She is returning from a broken wrist which she suffered in a crash at a training camp at the end of April. Her first race back will be the Giro Donne, which begins at the end of June. She has won the Italian Grand Tour twice before, in 2018 and 2019.
Up to this point Van Vleuten has held back on saying she will be going for both the maglia rosa and the maillot jaune in July, but she is widely considered the only rider capable of completing the double. She revealed the news in a post on her website.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly earlier this year, Van Vleuten said: “We have another beautiful goal coming up in the Tour de France, and then I maybe make it a bit more challenging, because if the Giro course is interesting, I will also add the Giro to my plan.
In a message which no doubt caused concern for her fellow contenders, the Dutchwoman added: “Then you have two super nice races close to each other, and I like challenges. Challenges usually get the best out of myself.”
This week Van Vleuten wrote: “The goal is to ride for the classification in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France and that will be quite challenging. I like to attack, and one-day races are my passion and heart.
"That passion does not lie in going for classification, I do it because I can. The Tour de France is a great goal and I also get excited about the Giro when I see the Giro men.”
The prolific winner won Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this season, and also finished second at Strade Bianche, the Tour of Flanders and Flèche Wallonne. She also won a stage and the GC at Setmana Valenciana-Volta Comunitat Valenciana Fémines.
“The difficult thing about a multi-day event is that you have many ‘negative goals’. In eight days of the Tour de France, you have nothing to gain and only to lose for the first six days," Van Vleuten continued. "That means staying out of trouble and saving energy. You simply cannot go for it if you’re going for a ranking.
“I can ride a classification and that’s why I do it, but my heart is more with attacking like Mathieu van der Poel. It’s no different for the Giro. Also, there I will have to stay out of trouble for the first few days and I see it only getting really difficult in the last few days.”
Van Vleuten, who won the Dutch national road race title in 2012 and has also won the time trial national title four times, said that this year's championships do not fit in her schedule, but also it was not the right course for her.
“If they had organised it in South Limburg, I would have come back for it,” she wrote. “But with a course that has also become a bit easier compared to last year, with the VAM mountain less often, I want to focus on main goals.”
The Dutchwoman said she can now ride and train pain-free.
"In the beginning of the rehabilitation I mainly did a bit of quiet duration," she wrote. "Now I can really train again. I think it is a good thing that I went to Andorra a little earlier than I would have otherwise. Sitting still on the couch doesn't make you any better either.
"The men of the Tour de France team of Movistar were also there and I was able to join them. This means that there was also a masseur, osteopath and mechanics. That was also a reason to go, because here I was in good hands."
Van Vleuten is back, her rivals should be wary.
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