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Annemiek van Vleuten says she will definitely retire at the end of 2023.
The Movistar rider announced her plans to hang up her racing wheels next season earlier this year. However, rumors that she might call it off started spreading following an interview soon after her dramatic world championships victory where she said sometimes had doubts about her decision.
In a press conference on the eve of the inaugural Tour de Romandie Féminin, Van Vleuten said her comments were taken out of context and there’s no question she will stop racing after next season.
“It was taken out of context, they just asked me ‘do you sometimes have doubts about stopping’ and I said ‘yes.’ Sometimes, I have doubts about stopping because I still love it so much, so why would I stop it? That was the answer to it and then the media picked it up and said ‘maybe she will continue’ and that’s not the case,” Van Vleuten said.
“I wanted to make my point that I am at such a high level that looking at that I would still have doubts and think maybe I can continue. To become world champion and to wear the rainbow jersey is even more confirmation to stop next year. After wearing the rainbow jersey for a year, it is the best moment for me to stop. I don’t have any doubts, I will enjoy it to the max next year.”
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Van Vleuten has not yet revealed what she might do when she does step off the bike, but that’s because she doesn’t really know yet. With her pedigree, there’ll certainly be brands and teams fighting for her to come on board.
While she hasn’t decided on her next career once professional cycling is done, there are some things she knows for certain. She’d like to work with younger riders and help their development, she absolutely does not want to be a sports director.
“Something that gives me energy at Movistar is that I see a young group of women who are developing so quickly. It’s not just the women, the staff around the team. To work with a young group of people, enthusiastic athletes, it’s something that I would really love to do,” she said. “Only, I’m sure that I would not like to do it from the car, so I will not be a DS.
“At the moment, I am thinking a little bit about which role I would like to work with young athletes, and how I can inspire and coach them. Maybe as a sports psychologist or maybe as a team manager or maybe just a trainer. I also like it from the training side and you can have a good impact as a coach. But first I want to enjoy 100 percent next year so I don’t want to think too much about what I am going to do after.”
Van Vleuten has excelled in pushing herself to the limit during her career and never seems to shy away from a challenge. Stepping off the bike and looking at a career away from racing is a daunting prospect, even for the formidable Dutchwoman.
She seems to be taking a similar approach to it as she has over her time as a professional rider, embracing the challenge.
“When I stop cycling, I have so much passion for developing myself physically with a plan to be in the best possible shape in the right moment and also to prepare myself mentally and physically with my coach and the team, that it will be an interesting challenge to find a new passion,” Van Vleuten said.
“At times, I am realising that I will not find the same passion, but for sure, I need to find a new passion and I am quite confident that I will find something. It will be challenging, but I like to go out my comfort zone, and stopping is maybe out of my comfort zone. My step to Movistar was a bit out of my comfort zone but stopping cycling also gives me new opportunities. I think that will be scary but it will also give me a lot.”