In modern bike racing, the rider with more experience typically takes the win. Fortunately, there are some recent exceptions to that rule, thanks to Chantal Blaak. Many of her victories have been achieved because she knows how to attack at the right time. Furthermore, she’s also a very strong time trialist.
Slowly, but surely
Chantal Blaak started her career in 2008 when she rode for AA Drink, which became Leontien.nl the following year, and then AA Drink-Leontien.nl, in which (former World Champion) Leontien van Moorsel played an important role. After Blaak’s first year of training she was allowed to show what she was capable of in 2009. In the Tour of Drenthe she took third, but perhaps more impressive was her second place at the Dutch National Road Racing Championships, where she placed just behind Marianne Vos.
The following years offered many opportunities for growth. In 2011, Blaak was once again on the podium at the Dutch Championships and won the Belgian one-day race Erondegemse Pijl. These aren’t especially prestigious races, but were still some nice results.
The future begins
Back then, Blaak also showed us her skills in the time trial. She performed well in the team time trial at several UCI Road World Championships. In 2012, she took third place with AA Drink-Leontien.nl at the World Championships and two years later she became the world champion with her new team Specialized-Lululemon. That was her best performance that year, and it was already clear that the future had begun for her.
In 2015, Blaak moved to Boels Dolmans and showed she could do more than just crush time trials. For example, in March she won the Belgian one-day race Le Samyn, where she beat Anna van der Breggen and Emma Johansson in the sprint.
Blaak managed to win that race again a year later and started to score well in other areas too. She became the time trial world champ for the second time in her career, won the classics Ronde van Drenthe and Gent Wevelgem, was second at the Dutch Championships time trial, and won the general classification of the Holland Ladies Tour. All thanks to a victory in the team time trial.
It was clear that Chantal Blaak already had potential, but how high would the bar ultimately be? She answered that question in 2017. She and her team won three team time trials, but she did not win the time trial at the World Championships. She did, however, during the road race at the World Championships, make a fantastic attack 8km before the finish, and slipped away from the group of favourites. She held the gap and was half a minute ahead of the rest on the line. Blaak was rightly crowned world champion and earned the right to wear the champion’s jersey for a year.
She won the Amstel Gold Race in the spring of 2018 in Limburg wearing that jersey. She then became Dutch champion once again. All of this and she is not yet even 30! Her best years are yet to come.