FILE PHOTO: Cycling - UCI Road World Championships - Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy - September 26, 2020. Gold medalist Netherlands' Anna van der Breggen celebrates on the podium after winning the Women's Elite Road Race. REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini/File Photo
July 19, 2021
TOKYO (Reuters) – Reigning Olympic women’s road race cycling champion Anna van der Breggen is determined to defend her title before hanging up her cleats and taking on a new role in the sport.
The 31-year-old is retiring at the end of the year to become leader of her SD Worx team, trading in her bike for the team car, but first wants a return to the winners’ podium, she told Dutch NOS television on Monday.
“This feels a bit like the last highlight for me but the Games are something special to experience,” said the two-time road race world champion and also reigning time trial world champion.
Van der Breggen is part of a four-woman Dutch team, together with Demi Vollering, Marianne Vos and Annemiek van Vleuten, who was world champion in 2019.
“First we have to make sure we get over the jet lag. We are still tired, but when that is over, I think we can be ready for the road race and then the time trial,” she said.
“We’ve come to win, I don’t think we’ll be satisfied with anything less, but it’s going to be difficult to achieve it because there are a lot of other good teams.
“But it is, of course, different for the time trial. That’s individual, so that’s kicking as hard as possible. I hope to do the best I can there and win.”
Van der Breggen took the bronze medal at Rio de Janeiro in the time trial and last year won the world championship in Imola.
She and her team mates arrived in Tokyo at the weekend: “At the airport you notice that the Olympic Games are there, but for us it’s actually almost the same as we always have it. We’re in a hotel with a lot of other cyclists and you can get out when you train.”
She said she had also drawn the short straw with her room allocation. “I’m looking out on a parking lot rather than Mount Fuji, which those staying on the other side of the hotel can see,” she added.
The 137km Olympic road race on Sunday will take the riders past the iconic volcano, finishing at the Fuji Speedway. The women’s time trial will be next Wednesday.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)