Anna van der Breggen has bid farewell to her brilliant career as a professional driver at the UCI Road World Championships and will welcome her new role as sports director, which could be from the first Paris-Roubaix Women organized on October 2 in France.
In an interview with Cycling newsVan der Breggen said she was happy to have set an official retirement date for what has been an exceptional ten-year career as she is ready to embark on the next chapter of her life.
“It was nice to end my season this way, with no pressure and no goals to hit. It was just enjoying my last race. I enjoyed riding my [Dutch] teammates and just being there and helping me. It was a good time for me to accept that I change jobs. I had time to realize that this career is ending and a new career begins “, said Van der Breggen Cycling news.
“Mentally, it was nice to have the last race this way, not just for me, but for my husband, my family, my parents and my friends. They followed me to all of my races, and it was so also their last race. They also needed time to realize that this was the last race and things are changing now. It was nice to pick a moment, the last race and then say goodbye and now it’s over for me and the people around me. “
Van der Breggen, 31, announced his retirement from professional cycling in May last year. She started the year as a two-time world champion after winning the time trial and road race at the Imola Worlds, and the last season was a whirlwind. She won a record seventh Flèche Wallonne in a row, a fourth overall title at the Giro d’Italia Donne and the bronze medal in the individual time trial at the Olympic Games.
“The only plan was to go to the Olympics, but from then on I had no plan for exactly when to retire. I felt like I didn’t want to quit after the Olympics, however, because it was too sudden I still wanted to run, but the pressure to be good and to show that you are the strongest was different for me, “said Van der Breggen.
After the Olympics, a decline in performance meant that Van der Breggen withdrew from the national team selection for the European Championships. She also chose not to defend her title in the individual time trial or compete in the mixed relay team time trial at the World Championships.
Throughout her impeccable career, Van der Breggen has shown that she is not only a leader, but that she is ready to sacrifice herself for her teammates. This season, for example, she helped her SD Worx teammate Demi Vollering to victories in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and in La Course.
She was therefore determined to support her compatriots; Ellen van Dijk, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Marianne Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten, Amy Pieters, Lucinda Brand and Demi Vollering in the elite women‘s road race at the World Championships.
“This is how I approached the Worlds, my last race, to try to help the girls,” said Van der Breggen. “After so many years of girls helping me at the World Championships, that was my main goal; to be there and to be of help to the girls to try to get a good result. Having my last race with this team was very special. because I’ve known them my whole career, and sometimes we’ve worked for each other on the sales teams or the national team. “
Few cycling athletes are as accomplished as Van der Breggen. She has built a successful career on her versatility as a rider with an impressive track record, and her list of accomplishments is endless.
- 1x gold medal in the road race at the 2016 Olympic Games
- 2x bronze medals in the time trial at the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2020 Olympic Games
- 2x 2018 Innsbruck and 2020 Imola road racing world champion
- 1x world champion in the individual time trial in 2020 Imola
- 4x winner of the Giro d’Italia Donne (2015, 2017, 2020 and 2021)
- 7x consecutive victories in Flèche Wallonne (2015-2021)
- 2x winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2017 and 2018)
- 1x winner of the Amstel Gold Race (2017)
- 1x winner of the Tour of Flanders (2018),
- 3x Dutch Champion (2015 and 2021 ITT, 2020 RR)
- 2x European Champion (2016 RR, 2020 ITT)
A great champion, a great person
Marianne Vos, 34, spoke of her compatriot’s retirement after the road race at the World Championships on Saturday, where she won the silver medal. She said it was strange saying goodbye to a runner she saw turn pro in 2009.
“She’s a great champion but also a great person. It’s weird to speak in retrospect, but she’s always been very dedicated and so relaxed, and it’s a good balance. She had to be who she is and n ‘never really acted like the queen of cycling, even though she was the past few years, ”Vos said. “Anna has always been Anna and she will remain Anna. We have had a great champion and a great role model for cycling.”
Van Vleuten said Cycling news that she would miss Van der Breggen, her compatriot and teammate in the Dutch national team and rival in the women’s peloton.
The two riders faced each other in some of the greatest cycling races, and neither is more memorable than La Course by Le Tour de France 2018, which ended with a high-speed and mind-blowing chase all the way to the Grand Bornand.
“She’s one of my biggest rivals, and I’m not happy that she quits because I love fighting. She’s a really big contender. I respect her and I think she is. made a very good decision [for herself] stop, but I’ll miss her next year. We have been fighting for a long time, ”said Van Vleuten.
“It’s sad she’s stopping.
“It’s good that she said she wanted to ride for the team at the World Championships. Anna has always shown great leadership that way. She’s a nice person who always gives and doesn’t want to. not always have the pressure. A lot of the time the other runners are working for us, so sometimes it’s time to help them. “
“I am totally ready to move on to a new chapter”
Van der Breggen officially begins her role as sports director at SD Worx in 2022. However, she led the team from the car for a stage of the Simac Ladies Tour. She will also be present at the first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes.
“Next week, I’ll be there for Paris-Roubaix. I don’t know if I’ll be in the team car or not, but I’m sure it’s a race where I can learn a lot,” he said. she declared.
“I joined Danny Stam in the car at the Simac Ladies Tour in Zwolle. I know every road there because it’s my training area, so I drove the car, and it was a great experience. “
Van der Breggen has confirmed that she is currently taking a Masters in Coaching course and will also enroll in the sports director course offered by the cycling governing body in November. She said she sees her new role as athletic director as a long-term career and looks forward to progressing in her new role.
“It’s like being a cyclist. It’s not like you’re starting out, and you’re good right away. I’ll need to gain some experience, and it’s a great experience to learn new things. . There are a lot of things, as a cyclist, that you don’t think about when you go to a race, and that will be new to me. I love this new challenge, “she said.
When asked if there was anything that made her particularly anxious about quitting her athletic career and starting a new job as a director, van der Breggen replied: “To be honest, at the moment. , no.”
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m happy to have been able to ride with our young riders this year. I have already moved into this role of sporting director, and when I think about the future I can’t wait to start.
“Mentally, I am totally ready to move on to a new chapter.”
Van der Breggen said there were other aspects of being a professional athlete as well that she would be happy to say goodbye to.
“Physically, not training anymore, not always being in good shape, and besides not having to plan, so taking that pressure off is good,” said Van der Breggen. “I can’t wait to change direction and just be normal. I’ll keep riding but without pressure. If it’s cold outside and it’s raining, I won’t go out and I won’t have a voice in it. my head that says: ‘you have to train inside’. “
This season SD Worx has a young talent squad that includes Demi Vollering, Lonneke Uneken, Nikola Noskova, Anna Shackley, Niamh Fisher-Black and Kata Blanka Vas, and next year the squad will include Lotte Kopecky. Van der Breggen said she looks forward to working with the young riders on the team and helping them develop and learn while competing in the elite women’s field.
“We have a lot of young riders on our team, and we can’t yet say who will be the strongest of them in the next few years. I also don’t want them to have that kind of pressure to be there. star of the team. It’s good that there are more of them and we have to grow in the future. It’s good to know them and help them learn to be good riders, “she said declared.
“They’re all trying to be good already, and that’s something interesting about this young generation, they’re doing so much already. It’s our job to tell them that they’re still young, that they have time and they should take advantage of it, slow them down. We have a good group of young riders and I hope when we are gone they will be strong enough to take over, but they don’t need to. do it too quickly. “