World time trial champion Ellen van Dijk has left Specialized-lululemon to sign a three-year deal with the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team. "The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are a big goal for me so a three-year contract is great. This team gives me all the possibilities to prepare for that important event," she told Cyclingnews.
Winning at the Olympics has been a life-long goal for the 26-year-old rider. She didn't manage to qualify for the individual pursuit in Beijing in 2008 and saw the event cancelled from the London Olympics. She did, however, ride the team pursuit but finished sixth. In 2008 she won a gold medal in the scratch race at the world track championships.
This year Van Dijk took her first individual world time trial championship gold medal in Florence. "The Worlds remain a big goal, also in 2014, but the course in Spain is not favourable with that long climb. But we'll see that later."
Van Dijk won several stage races in her career, laying the foundation for overall victories in the team time trials. "That will change with my new team but I am also very excited to bring across my experience in the discipline to the other riders. It is an important goal for the team in the future so who knows how far we can go?"
Ellen van Dijk started her career with the Dutch team Vrienden van het Platteland before moving to Columbia-HTC, which later became Specialized-lululemon. Specialized as a brand played an important role in her team time trial victories.
"Specialized has state of the art time trial bikes but Boels-Dolmans is still negotiating with several equipment sponsors. It would be great if I can continue riding on Specialized but it’s not the most important thing."
For the first time in five years Van Dijk returns to a Dutch team. "That was one of the factors I took into account too. But mostly that Boels-Dolmans is a very professional team with big ambitions for the future."
The Dutch outfit signed London silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead last year, as well as Lucy Martin and Emma Trott. The team has ambitions to become one of the top women’s teams in the world.
"I can play a part in that. I will be one of the main riders, next to Lizzie, but it’s not only about me. My focus next year will be the World Cup races and the time trial championships, both national and the Worlds in Ponferrada."
The team from the south of the Netherlands has been trying to sign van Dijk since 2012.
"They approached me back in 2012 but I declined. They kept following my results throughout the year but I said I only wanted to talk after the world championships. They respected that."
In Firenze Van Dijk rode to two world titles. Her first individual one against the clock and the second one in the team time trial. Only Tony Martin managed to do the same.
"We started talking after I came back from Italy, so basically that was not very long. They have so much faith in me that they want to give me a three-year contract. That gives me peace of mind to work towards the Olympic Games. I take with me the experience from Specialized-lululemon and hope to be part of the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team's success in 2014."