Rainbow diaries: The last race in the rainbow jersey

This blog was originally published together with Ella Cyclingtips. 18th September 2017.

At the end of the week, it’ll be time for me to defend my World Champion jersey.

I just had my potential last race in the rainbow stripes. It was a criterium in Denmark, a race organized together with the men’s first stage of Postnord Tour of Denmark. And I have mixed feelings.

In the beginning of the season, I didn’t feel like the jersey was actually mine; I was so used to seeing it on the shoulders of big names like Lizzie Deignan or Marianne Vos. But now that I’ve had a whole year to get used to it, it all went by way too quickly!

Plus, since Worlds wasn’t until October last year, I only get to wear it for 11 months – not fair :-)!

It’s not easy racing at home alone against the teams, but it was great to have my last race in the stripes be in my home country, and even nicer that I could honour it by finishing on the podium.

BERGEN

The 2017 UCI Road World Championships in Bergen are my third elite road World Championships. I’ve been asked a thousand times if the course fits me (as a sprinter), and I’m never really sure what to answer. I haven’t seen it in person yet, and I won’t get a chance to recon it until two days before the race. But from what I hear, the course is deceivingly hard, and there will be a lot of nations lining up with very strong squads.

I think almost the entire Dutch team can win, but especially Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen seem to be strong at the moment. Other riders I’ll be watching are Coryn Rivera, Jolien D’hoore, Elisa Longo Borghini and Lizzie Deignan.

My team (Denmark) is lining up with seven riders, which is a big improvement compared to last year where we were just three riders strong. I will share the leading role with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who’s had a very good season. We haven’t talked about the exact team tactics yet, but I hope to get the support to try and defend my title.

Only on Sunday, will I be able to tell you if the course was too hard for a sprinter like me. But one thing is sure, though: I’m going to fight with all I got!

DREAMING OF THE FUTURE

When I dream of the future, I don’t just dream of my own career. Sometimes I dream about the future of women’s cycling in general.

As mentioned above, my last race was a criterium held in conjunction with the first stage of Postnord Tour of Denmark. I am happy that they’ve started organizing a race for us women, but it would be better if we could have a women’s UCI stage race just like the men, with multiple stages and live TV coverage. It would mean I would have the opportunity to race with my Boels-Dolmans teammates in my home country. Furthermore, I am sure it would give Danish women’s cycling a boost. Denmark is still a small cycling country but it’s growing and it has a lot of potential.

Having the best teams in the world competing in our country would provide an opportunity for emerging talent –who maybe didn’t get a contract straight after being a junior –to race a world-class event as part of the national team, gain experience and potentially get the attention of teams. Meanwhile, the girls from the youth categories would have the opportunity too see what they can achieve, and hopefully we would be able to inspire them. I know it takes a lot of work to organize a race like that, but it would be great and I won’t stop dreaming.

WHAT’S NEXT

It’s now around three months since I finished school, and I get a lot of questions about what I do with “all that extra free time.” I actually have been quite busy. My schedule has been packed with races and travel days and I’ve been away from home 65-70% of the time. So when I’ve been home I’ve enjoyed not having to use my time on schoolwork and actually having some free time, where I didn’t have to do anything at all. The thing is, to be a professional cyclist is a full-time job, juggling with school on the side was hard, which is why I want to enjoy the opportunity I have now.

I am going to ride a bit on the track again this winter. And after a year without competing in any World Cups, I am going to ride some of them again this year. I am also looking forward to riding some of the Revolution track races together with Lizzie Deignan in the Boels-Dolmans jersey, so there’s plenty of racing yet to come, and my off-season will come later in the winter.

Thank you for following along during my year in the rainbow stripes. Who knows, if all works out on Saturday, you may hear from me again soon!