Ellen van Dijk to take time out to have first child, targets 2024 Olympics

The multiple time trial world champion is due to give birth in September.

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

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Ellen van Dijk announced Thursday morning that she will be missing the 2023 season as she goes on maternity leave while she is pregnant with her first child.

The three-time time trial world champion confirmed that she will not be racing this season and is due to give birth in September.

In a statement issued by her Trek-Segafredo team, Van Dijk said that she would target a return in 2024 with a focus on the Olympic Games in Paris.

“Together with the Team, and the unwavering support of Benjamin, I have achieved my biggest goals over the past two years,” Van Dijk said. “When discussions around an extension of my contract began last year, we spoke about my seemingly conflicting ambitions: I want to win a medal at the Olympics in 2024, but I would also like to start a family. Straight away, the team was open to both scenarios and that was incredibly heart-warming.

“Of course, it’s a shame I won’t be racing my new supersonic shiny Speed Concept this year and I was really looking forward to wearing the rainbow stripes at the Tour de France Femmes and Vuelta, but you can’t have it all. Nevertheless, I’m very pleased to see these races taking the time trial discipline seriously and hopefully they’ll keep it for next year. It will also be weird not to defend my world title this year, but I think by that time my mind will be somewhere else entirely.”

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Van Dijk is the second Trek-Segafredo rider to go on maternity leave since the team was created in 2015. Her teammate Lizzie Deignan is currently preparing for a return to racing in May after having her second child last year.

There are other riders in the women’s pro peloton who are currently on maternity leave with Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) and Joss Lowden (Uno-X) also due to give birth later this year.

Van Dijk, who is 35, has been a professional for almost 20 years after turning professional in 2006 aged 18. Trek-Segafredo confirmed that Van Dijk discovered she was pregnant during the team’s January training camp in Calpe.

“Obviously, pregnancy is not something you can completely plan for, particularly as an elite athlete where, as in my case, there is not always a regular menstrual cycle. Therefore, I feel even more fortunate to get pregnant,” Van Dijk said. “I took the test and found out I was pregnant when I was at training camp and after Benjamin, Manuel [Rodriguez, Doctor] and Josu [Larrazabal, Performance Manager] were the first ones I told the news.

“This is when the saying ‘the team feels like a family’ really comes to life. They were super excited for us and gave us their full support. A little later I called Ina [Teutenberg, Sports Director], who was in Australia at that moment, and she was also incredibly supportive and happy for us. Everybody has reacted super positively, and I couldn’t wish for a better environment to be in as I go on this journey.”

Van Dijk is hoping to return in time to compete at the Paris Olympic Games next season, which will take place in August. The Dutchwoman missed selection for the last competition in Tokyo, while she missed out on a medal at the 2016 Games in Rio after crashing during the time trial.

“I definitely have unfinished business with the Olympics. In 2016, I crashed in the time trial and ended in a disappointing fourth place then, I didn’t get selected to go to Tokyo so, together with Benjamin and Josu, we have already started to tentatively make a structured plan for my comeback in 2024 and for Paris,” she said.

“I haven’t looked beyond that, for the moment. We are really looking forward to this big adventure, but of course, we have no idea what it’s really going to be like. Everything about this pregnancy is new for me, a lot is happening to my body, and I am embracing every change.”

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