It's an excellent feeling to set a target, create a plan with my team and my coach, and then nail it - I won the Giro Rosa!
This victory has given me confidence in working toward future goals such as the World Championships or maybe even the Tokyo Olympic Games. I know now that I can be mentally and physically prepared for such significant endeavours.
Winning a big stage race like the Giro Rosa, however, is extra special, even more so than a one-day race. Why? Because no one can win a 10-day race without a strong and committed team - My team is Mitchelton-Scott.
The moment that my teammates joined me on the final podium to celebrate this overall victory was one of the highlights of the ten days of racing across northern Italy. Being up there on the podium by myself wouldn't have felt right. To celebrate together was incredible, and so much fun.
We went on to celebrate our success with a lovely team dinner in Udine on Sunday night. It was essential for me to commemorate this win together. When I looked at all the people who were seated at our table, I truly felt that everyone contributed something to this victory. I was so pleased that we could all be at one table together, and what’s pretty incredible is that we have more staff than riders!
To give you an idea of what it takes to support a team at the Giro Rosa, Mitchelton-Scott had 14 staff members, not including the riders. We had two sports directors (Alejandro and Martin), three soigneurs (Miha, Nadia and Mattia), two mechanics (Nico and Pat), two bus drivers (Otazu and Jacopo), two photographers (Sara and Luc), along with a videographer (Oliver), our press officer (Lucy) and a physiotherapist (Ellen).
The level of commitment from our staff was incredible; they worked super hard and were the first to wake up in the morning and the last to go to bed each night.
I must give a special thank you to my teammates!
Amanda Spratt - 'Spratty'
Spratty was my roommate, and she was always by my side, and to have such an experienced teammate helped me to stay relaxed and confident. She is also a perfect on-road captain. I never needed to stress out about tactical decisions on the road. She was in charge of coaching the other girls on the road a bit, too, which is very helpful. As a roommate she is also great. Both of us have similar focus and nerves, and that works well for me. For three years now we have a kind of 'stretching and foam-roller competition' going on in our room. Neither of us are very disciplined with this routine normally, unless we are 100 per cent focussed (like at the Giro Rosa), and so we both tend to postpone our stretching sometimes. In this case, however, the one who stretched first always reminded the other to stretch, in a funny and polite way.
Lucy Kennedy - No nickname, yet!
She finished her first Grand Tour. It's so nice to see that, especially after having a bad experience last year. It's refreshing to see her improving her skills! She was always there to make the climbs hard and with this sacrificing her own possibility to test her legs to see how she might go on the uphill finishes herself. Lucy also went with Spratty, Martin and Nico to recon the stages in Friuli (stage 7, 8 and 9). Because of my National Championships, I was not able to recon those stages. It’s awesome that they did the recon and provided me with the information. They even made videos so that we wouldn’t be surprised about the steepness of some climbs (such as the finish of stage 9) or the surprising, cobbled, narrow, crazy climbs (such as on stage 7).
Grace Brown - 'Browny'
Grace made her debut on our team this year and sometimes I forget how 'new' she is in cycling because on the road she showed very promising skills. She’s also very eager to learn and so it’s encouraging to be able to share a bit of my experiences with her. To see her learning and improving as a rider in general made me smile and gave me energy. This is just her second season overseas racing in Europe. She was the queen of suffering in the team time trial. She also ended up riding this Giro Rosa with 11 staples after a crash in one of the early stages with a race vehicle and I didn’t even hear her complain once. She's as tough as nails! She's also an awesome addition to have on the team bus, together with Roy, because she gives us all great pre-race team vibes (and dance moves!).
Sarah Roy - 'Roy'
This was the third time that Roy supported me in the Giro Rosa. She has a big engine and so great to have when there is a need to ride in front. Sarah is always there, in position, and 100 per cent committed to every single job. She's also an essential ingredient for our pre-race positive energy and laughs. When I am focussed and sometimes a bit nervous ahead of the stage, it’s relaxing to hear that the other girls are having some laughs and fun. Sometimes I noticed that I miss a lot of good pre-race fun when I watched our team videos the next day. Everyday, when we’re going to sign on, we request a song, which will be our song for that stage of the Giro Rosa. Roy loved a horrible song called 'Level Up,' and in the beginning no one liked it, but she played it so often in the team bus, from day three on, it gave us a lot of pre-race energy and laughs - "5-4-3-2-1-Level up" and more 'super bad' lyrics were involved in this song by Ciara.
Moniek Tenniglo - 'Moniek'
I can't believe how eager and committed someone can be to work 100 per cent for the team! She even went to train at altitude to be in the best possible form for her role as a domestique at this Giro Rosa. This kind of commitment gave me added pressure to be at my very best and extra motivation to perform well. She has a big engine and when you need someone you can rely on 100 per cent or if something needs to be done: Moniek is there. You will never find her riding in the back of the peloton unless her job was done, and she would be there in order to take maximum recovery so that she could do her job again the next day.
Mitchelton-Scott - from our six riders to all of our team staff - we won this Giro Rosa together!
Click through the gallery above to view images from the 2019 Giro Rosa
Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) astounded the cycling world during the 2018 season, winning the Giro Rosa, a second consecutive world title in the individual time trial and securing top honours in the overall standings of both the Women's WorldTour and the UCI World Ranking – making her the number one rider in the world. You can visit her website here.