Annemiek van Vleuten will target Giro-Tour double if Giro course is 'interesting'

Dutch Olympic time trial champion says she has been looking how to "recharge" mentally and physically between two Grand Tours

Annemiek van Vleuten
Annemiek van Vleuten in the Giro d'Italia Donne's leader's jersey in 2020
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Annemiek van Vleuten has said she will only target the Giro d'Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes double if the Giro course is "interesting".

Speaking on Wednesday, the Movistar rider said that "if the Giro course is interesting, I will also add the Giro to my plan". The two-time Giro winner explained: "It should make me hungry. It should be a challenging parcours."

2022 will see the inaugural edition of the Tour de France Femmes, an eight-day stage race put together by Tour organiser ASO. It is scheduled for two weeks after the Giro d'Italia Donne, a 10-day event seen by many as the premier women's stage race, which has been running since 1988.

"We have a new goal this year with the Tour de France," Van Vleuten told Cycling Weekly. "I would not say I'm in a black hole this year after the Olympics. We have another beautiful goal coming up in the Tour de France, and then I will 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 warning to her rivals for both general classification titles, she said: "Then you have two super-nice races close to each other, and I like challenges. Challenges usually get the best out of myself."

The Dutchwoman has won almost everything in cycling, from the World Championships road race to the Tour of Flanders, via stage races like the Giro. The Tour is her overwhelming goal for this year, as a new standout event, but an attempt at the Giro-Tour double would further be unprecedented.

In men's cycling, the last rider to win the double was Marco Pantani in 1998. Although there is longer between the two events, the two male races are 21-stages long, which makes it a different feat to the 18 days of racing needed to complete the women's Giro and Tour.

Van Vleuten is already looking at how to recover between the two. She said: "I think it's something we've looked at, me and my coach. How to prepare well but also how to recharge between big events. 

"Those two things we have a little bit under control, how I can recharge myself after a huge goal like the Giro and then recharge for the Tour de France. Mentally and physically."

It is something that is being taken seriously by her team: "We are going to do some recons, they are already planned, my team is also excited to do that. This year there will be less emphasis on the time trial, because there is no time trialling in the Tour for example, so there will be more focus for me on the road racing, and to improve my climbing."

Annemiek van Vleuten at the 2021 Vuelta Challenge

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In terms of what the 39-year old is looking for should she target the Giro, she explained: "It should make me hungry. It should be a challenging parcours. For sure, it's a bonus if they put in a famous climb. I think also for the development and for the Giro itself it's good if you say we did the Zoncolan, or we did the Mortirolo, or we did Gavia. 

"If they add at least one famous climb where people get a feeling for what we are doing there. For sure it needs to be a mix with sprint stages also, but if there are only sprint stages you will not see me there."

Van Vleuten has twice won the Giro comprehensively, in 2018 by over four minutes and in 2019 by over three and a half minutes. In 2020 she looked to be heading to victory, leading by 1-48 before crashing out; she did not race the event last year due to her focus on the Tokyo Olympics, where she won silver in the road race and gold in the time trial.

She also said that she had a bit of a problem with the first Tour de France Femmes being "hyped" too much. 

"Maybe it's a little bit like the Olympics that everyone is talking too much about it, if you ask me," the Movistar rider said. "Because in the end, it's an eight-day stage race. It's really nice that it's on the calendar, and I think they do it really well, and it will be really big because it is related to the men's race. For the media it will be super big. It is a beautiful stage race added to our calendar. 

"I sometimes have a little bit of a problem when something gets really hyped, like the Olympics. Too many people talk about it and the media make it too big, maybe also with this Tour de France. It's super nice to have it and I'm super happy, but in the end we also have had years of the Giro d'Italia for women over 10 days and I have had super epic battles there and no one was talking about it."

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.