Cycling-Dutch great Van Vleuten happy with life in slow lane


  • Cycling
  • Saturday, 27 Apr 2024

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - 2023 Tour de France Presentation - Le Palais des Congres de Paris, Paris, France - October 27, 2022 Annemiek Van Vleuten before the presentation REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/File Photo

ALCUDIA, Spain (Reuters) - Retired Dutch cycling great Annemiek van Vleuten will be back in the saddle on Saturday in one of Europe's biggest Gran Fondos - a recreational long distance ride - but do not expect any trademark solo attacks.

The 41-year-old will join more than 8,000 amateurs in the Mallorca 312 -- a closed-roads event that draws keen cyclists from all across Europe and beyond.

Van Vleuten is the latest cycling great to wear the honorary bib number 312, a year after Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, winner of all three Grand Tours, had the honour.

The Olympic time trial champion, whose career included every major title in women's cycling, was known for her peloton-shredding attacks, like the more than 100 km solo that took her to the world road title in Harrogate in 2019.

Having quit last year though, she is content to live life in a slower gear.

"It's super nice to be back on the island where I trained so much during my career," Van Vleuten said at the official presentation in Playa de Muro alongside Nibali and Spanish legend Alberto Contador on Friday.

"The shape is not there any more and I'm also happy that I'm not there any more and I don't have the pressure of preparing for races. It's a different life now, I ride my bike twice a week and tomorrow I hope I make the time cut!

"It will be amazing to ride with so many people and just relax and enjoy the scenery for a change."

Van Vleuten plans to ride the full 312 km distance while some riders will opt for the 225km and 167km options.

She won the time trial at the Tokyo Olympics and was runner-up in the road race.

Last year she won the inaugural edition of La Vuelta Femenina, having won the Tour de France Femmes the year before and the Giro Donne on four occasions.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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