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She wheelies through cyclocross finishes, breezes through road classics, and has big ambitions in the mountain bike Olympics. Oh, and she runs a YouTube channel and studies human movement in her spare time too.
Is there anything Puck Pieterse can’t do?
The 20-year-old Dutch sensation saw her Women’s WorldTour debut at Strade Bianche last weekend and made most of the peloton look like rookies.
“In the end I surprised myself. I didn’t know what my position was going to be, so I went full throttle and if I ended up 30th, that would have been fine too. I wanted to get the best out of it for myself,” she told In De Leiderstrui last weekend.
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Pieterse finished sixth in Siena in what was by far her biggest road race to date. It was so good a ride even world champion Annemiek van Vleuten took note.
“Talking about the future of cycling… WAUW,” Van Vleuten said of her compatriot. “What a champ already (and gutsy ride also, no hesitation … just ride full gas in the chase without fear). Loved it.”
And talking about the future of cycling… WAUW. What a champ already (and gutsy ride also, no hesitation…just ride full gas in the chase without fear). Loved it. https://t.co/v8DSs6cgb6
— Annemiek van Vleuten (@AvVleuten) March 6, 2023
Van Vleuten had good reason to be impressed.
Fenix-Deceuninck’s all-terrain ace rarely raced on the road since she hit the high level and barely touched her skinny tires the winter.
Instead, pocket-rocket Pieterse lit up the cyclocross calendar with her blistering rivalry with Fem van Empel, winning nine times along the way.
Before that, she blitzed through the U23 cross-country mountain bike summer, winning the European title and scoring silver in the words.
“After my second place at the cyclocross world championships, I did winter sports for a week. I then had two weeks to become a road cyclist. That worked out pretty well,” Pieterse joked after Strade last weekend.
The road can wait for Pieterse
So does Pieterse’s barnstorming ride into Siena suggest she’s going to “do a Wout van Aert” or “do a Tom Pidcock” and transition away from her muddy roots?
Don’t bet on it.
The multi-discipline phenom has gold in her eyes as she turns her attention toward Paris.
“The focus is now first on the mountain bike Olympics, so I don’t know if I’m going to ride a road race at all this year,” Pieterse said. “I want to qualify myself first and then we’ll see how it goes.’
Pieterse’s brash and blazing ride through Strade epitomizes her punk rock attitude. She only got offered the chance to race in Tuscany at short notice and saw it as a mere diversion from the MTB.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when the team asked me to race Strade,” she said.
“I would only do it if it didn’t come into conflict with my preparations for the mountain bike season. The team said it would be fine and it could be done. But now I’m going to rest and then the MTB World Cups will start in May.’”
Pieterse will spend the coming weeks taking some downtime, catching up on her studies for a Human Movement Sciences degree, and pumping up her fat tires.
And the road? That can wait.
“The team is happy to have a core that’s into off-road racing,” she told Wielerflits. “They don’t ask me many questions about my future at the moment, but of course that may come. I am now mainly focusing on mountain biking and ‘cross, then we will see.”
It seems Pieterse’s only challenge right now is choosing which discipline to try next.
— Fenix-Deceuninck Cycling Team (@FenixDeceuninck) March 4, 2023