The 2019 road racing season is well under way and we have already seen some great racing. What we have also seen is that much of that great racing has come from female riders. The TV coverage and prize money given to women’s racing is still minimal compared with the men’s sport, but the situation does seem to be slowly improving. In a two-article series, we will look at the most successful women racers in today’s peloton. To do so, we have split the peloton into two: Dutch riders and international riders. (This is simply because there are so many excellent Dutch women competing at the moment.)
Annemiek van Vleuten
At the end of 2018, Annemiek van Vleuten was on amazing form. She won the women’s time trial at the UCI Road World Championships, and a couple of days later she was looking excellent during the road race—until she fell hard on her knee. She remounted and finished a respectable 7th, but following the race she was diagnosed with a broken kneecap. After a long period of recovery and other injuries, she is so far back on excellent form again in 2019. This season she has already won the Strade Bianche and was 2nd in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Van Vleuten will be in action during the Giro Rosa in early July, and our hopes are high.
Marianne Vos is only 31 years old, but already has an impressive cycling career behind her. She often combines cyclocross and road racing, but in the latter has been world champion three times. On the road she has also won the Brabantse Pijl five times and the Giro Rosa three times, including a staggering 21 stage wins. In 2019, she has already won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, which is a major classic in women’s road racing. As if these weren’t already enough, Vos has been in the top 15 of every other race she has entered so far. She is also an excellent team player, for both her sponsor team and the national squad.
Anna van der Breggen
Anna van der Breggen is, together with Annemiek van Vleuten, one of the most successful women bike racers of this generation. She is 28 years old, and therefore still has a bright career ahead of her. Nevertheless, with her palmares, she could already retire with her head held high. Van der Breggen has won just about everything worth winning in this sport. In 2016 she rendered herself immortal by winning Olympic gold in Rio during the road race, and in 2018 she won the road race at the World Championships. She has also won the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and both the Giro Rosa and Liège–Bastogne–Liège twice, as well as a whole bunch of other victories. The 2019 season has started rather quietly for her, but there a still great races to come…
Ellen van Dijk
Ellen van Dijk has also been at the sharp end of women’s racing for quite a while. Her greatest victory so far was the time trial at the World Championships in 2013. She is always good at time trialing, and any event including this discipline will automatically suit her. But she’s also a rider to keep an eye on during one-day classics: in 2019 she has already won the Dwars door Vlaanderen and was 5th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, a race which she won in 2014. She won another important victory in 2018 with the Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, which was a high-profile race. In 2019 she has set her sights on the European and the time trial at the World Championships.
The final Dutch rider in this series is Chantal Blaak. She won her biggest-ever victory in 2017 when she won the road race at the World Championships. Blaak is a specialist in one-day races, though somehow she performs less well in stage races. In 2019, though, she still won the Omloop het Nieuwsblad and was 2nd in the Ronde van Drenthe. She won the Amstel Gold Race in 2018 and previously won won the Ronde van Drenthe in 2016. She was also Dutch national road racing champion in 2018.