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When she was 15 years old Amalie Dideriksen saw the 2011 Road World Championships in Copenhagen. At that time, she could never have dreamt that one day she would wear the rainbow stripes. “The feeling I could be a pro cyclist only came in my junior years [U19],” the Danish rider says in a shy voice.
It wasn’t long before she was on top of the world. Dideriksen won the junior road world title twice and became elite world champion when she was only 20, making her one of the youngest world champions in history.
After six years on women’s cycling’s superteam Boels-Dolmans, Dideriksen, still only 24 years young, moved to that other, new superteam Trek-Segafredo this winter. She is now preparing for an important year that is set to include the Olympic Games – where she hopes to medal in the omnium and madison – and a Road World Championships on a course in Flanders that suits her.
“I am looking forward to this year,” Dideriksen says. “It’s a fresh start. I was with Boels-Dolmans for six seasons and it’s the only team I have known. They made me the rider I am now. The team felt like home. Trek contacted me before but I decided to stay for another two years. I knew what I had at Boels-Dolmans and could combine my track and road career. But Trek was still interested last year and I decided to join them and try something new.
“I am particularly looking forward to working with Giorgia Bronzini [the rider who won the world title in Copenhagen] and Ina Teutenberg. I haven’t been in the same peloton as Ina but rode with Giorgia. She was a good but fair sprinter. I look forward to learning from them both.”
Moving to another superteam means Dideriksen will still have to share the spotlight with the biggest stars in cycling; riders like Lizzie Deignan, Elisa Longo Borghini, and Ellen van Dijk. With fast riders like Chloe Hosking and Letizia Paternoster also on the squad she won’t be the only sprinter either, but she is confident she will get her moments.
“Cycling has become more and more of a team sport,” the Danish champion states. “You can’t do it on your own anymore. I want to focus on being consistent in my season and hope for some chances to sprint for a win. I will take those chances as they come but I also enjoy helping my teammates in races I can’t ever win myself.”
With the depth of women’s cycling increasing every year, it’s becoming harder for young riders to make their mark. Her world title at just 20 was even more remarkable for that reason. The rainbow jersey automatically put her in a permanent spotlight for the following season. She won one race, the Ronde van Drenthe at the start of 2017.
“People paid attention after my junior titles but when you are elite champion that’s even more the case. It’s not that I get or got recognised on the streets of Copenhagen though,” she says with a smile. “I was of course also noticed in the peloton [in the rainbow jersey] which was hard because I was still developing as a rider. I couldn’t be at the front of every race but a world champion is always noticed, also when I was behind in a second group.
“Boels-Dolmans never had these expectations. The expectations were my own. I was afraid I wouldn’t do the jersey proud. Still, it was an amazing year and I hope to win the title again.”
Dideriksen is also an accomplished track rider. She won junior world titles, medals in the omnium, and a European madison title with Julie Leth. The last of those events will be added to the Olympic program in Tokyo and Dideriksen wants to be the first one to get a women’s madison Olympic medal.
Track cycling has been affected by COVID-19 but also by the new planning of the UCI. World Cups, where riders get points to qualify for the World Championships, were moved from winter to summer.
“This winter we didn’t have any World Cups because of the rescheduling,” Dideriksen says from sunny Gran Canaria where she is training with the Danish national team. “As a rider who makes her money on the road, I am curious to see how this change will affect me. I have to qualify for World Championships during the summer season, where I also ride on the road – [it] will be interesting to see. Luckily Denmark qualified for Tokyo already and I hope to be on that team.
“I try to stick to the plan for the Olympics. I have to do that work anyways to be in top shape if they take place. Plus, I will also be riding many road races this year.”
Dideriksen hails from Kastrup, near Copenhagen. She tries to avoid the Danish winters as much as she can. The country is crazy about bikes, has amazing cycling infrastructure and many people commute to work. She hopes she can inspire young riders and help grow the profile of the sport even further.
“Denmark loves bikes but as a junior woman it’s not always easy,” she says. “I hope to inspire more junior women to stay in the sport. At the moment you either turn pro or you quit after those two years. We used to ride with the elite in our national championship. I won my first road title [of four] when I was a junior which meant I could ride my first elite season in the national jersey but I wish we had more depth in our national peloton.”
Though Dideriksen is only 24 she has lots of experience in the peloton. The 2020 season was a hard one with only eight race days to show herself. Although she didn’t manage to make her mark in the spring / autumn Classics, she feels she is still progressing as a rider.
“I see in my training that I progress but it didn’t show in my results,” she explains. “The dynamic in the peloton this year will be interesting. Trek-Segafredo has to stay on top and it will be weird riding against Boels-Dolmans now. The level is going up every year and many new riders step up. The peloton becomes more equal and it’s not one rider winning it all. Specialization as a rider will become a necessity.”
Dideriksen is a strong rider who makes her mark in sprints and Classics. Her favourite memories are on the track at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she finished fifth in the omnium. She finds it hard to choose between the two cycling disciplines and has ambitions in both.
“It was a long road to qualify for Rio so being there was a huge relief,” she says. “I also managed to enjoy my time at the Olympics. The omnium was intense because it was still six events in two days. The shorter time trials were not my specialty. The new omnium [from six individual and peloton events to four peloton events only – ed.] suits me well. I dreamt of an Olympic medal for a long time but the rainbow jersey is also so special.
“I can’t really choose [a favourite discipline out of road and track]. Do I really, really have to?” she concludes with a smile.