Why Annemiek van Vleuten kept switching her yellow bikes mid-race

The yellow paint is ‘too heavy’, it turns out

Annemiek van Vleuten
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the first half of the eighth and final stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, race leader Annemiek van Vleuten —decked from head to toe in yellow— was seen switching bikes five times. 

The 39-year-old climbing sensation started the race on her special, all-yellow Canyon Aeroad which was presented to her on the morning of the race. 

She then switched to her spare bike, a black Canyon Aeroad with yellow accents. This move was pre-planned, Dani Sánchez, Movistar’s communications offer explained.

The reason? Paint is heavy. 

“She wants it as light as possible, and layers of paint mean some extra grams,” Sanchez said.

This is also why Van Vleuten normally rides an all-black Canyon with blue decals versus the team issue black-blue-and-white colorway. 

But when she then encountered a mechanical, Van Vleuten was briefly forced to change bikes with a teammate who quickly came to her race leader’s aide.

This bike didn’t seem to fit Van Vleuten quite right, however, so the Movistar team car returned once again to allow Van Vleuten to get back on her yellow bike while the black bike was being fixed.

Once the repair was completed, the team car returned for a fifth time to give Van Vleuten back her preferred bike, the black-with-yellow-accents one. 

All this switcheroo occurred within the first 60 kilometers of the race, and while it would have been perhaps the only way to make up some of the massive gap Van Vleuten has on her competitors, sportsmanship reigned. Demi Vollering (SD Worx) appeared to be speaking to her team radio, perhaps telling riders to allow Van Vleuten to reconnect after the mechanical. 

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Anne-Marije Rook
North American Editor

Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.

Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist. She's now been a cycling journalist for 11 years.