‘Remember to enjoy it, Amalie’: Dideriksen, on kicking off new season in rainbow stripes

This blog was originally written for Ella Cyclingtips. March 8 2017.

After a winter spent dutifully training for the upcoming road season, it was nice to get the season started late last month. I had originally hoped to debut the rainbow jersey at Ladies Tour of Qatar, where I won my stripes, but when that race was cancelled, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was set as my season debut.

I have now done three races as the world champion: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Omloop van het Hageland (both 1.1 UCI races) and Strade Bianche (the first Women’s WorldTour race of this season).

I raced both Nieuwsblad and Hageland before, two years ago, as my first elite European races. Two years ago may not seem like a long time, but it feels like a lifetime ago. Of course I’m still riding for the same team, feeling the same mix of nervousness and excitement before the start of a race, and having the usual pre-race discussion with my teammates about exactly how much clothes to wear…but as much as some things never change, other things have changed entirely.

When I think back my first Het Nieuwsblad in 2015, I remember stepping out of the team bus feeling proud to wear the Boels-Dolmans jersey but freaking out about not having done any warm up at all. I would later learn that warming up isn’t something that happens regularly, and I might as well get used to warming up during the opening kilometers.

Two years ago, I would watch my teammates signing rider cards and photos that fans eagerly shoved into their hands. I only had a few requests.

Now I step out of the bus proudly sporting the Boels-Dolmans jersey, this year with the rainbow bands, and people actually want my autograph, too – some even on the photo cards from the previous years, which I find a little funny.

Before I left Denmark, my mum said to me: “Remember to enjoy it, Amalie. You’re only going to have one first race in the jersey.” That first race wasn’t how I dreamt it would be, but I’d like to think my mum’s advice helped me embrace the experience anyway.

I never expected to win Nieuwsblad or anything like that, but I had hoped to show the jersey in a nice way and to be there as long as possible with my teammates. Instead, I got caught up by an early crash on one of the first climbs, and I didn’t have the legs to come back. My teammate Chantal finished second. I ended up as number 44.

Being behind the first group was a little hard mentally. My personal expectations had me hoping for better, but I also know that everyone knows the jersey and expects the jersey to be at the front.

Hageland the following day was better. It finished in a sprint. As it was downhill and tailwind it wasn’t the ideal situation for me but I snuck into the top ten. More important than the result, I’m happy that I had a better feeling during the race. It is always nice return home with a good feeling.

Strade Bianche was this past weekend, and it was my first time riding the Italian one-day Classic. I had my first press conference, if you don’t count the post-race press conferences at the World Championships. They had me face journalists alongside Peter Sagan, and I have to admit, Sagan got a lot more questions than me, but it was a cool experience.

With the only two Strade Bianche winners on my team in Lizzie Deignan and Megan Guarnier, my job was clear: help our leaders. I did my best. I crashed, but I’m happy with how I helped the team. Even though I wasn’t amongst the first riders, riding the last 1000 meters uphill through the small streets of Siena with people cheering from the side was an experience I won’t forget. Strade Bianche is definitely a race firmly on my “have another crack” list for the future.

All in all, it’s been a solid start for me as the 2016 world champion. I’m proud of the jersey, and I want to enjoy my season it it. I hope to develop throughout the year, in the same way I’ve done in the last few years.

Until next time!