Former Dutch road race and time trial champion Loes Gunnewijk will be national coach of the Dutch national women's team from the start of 2019. Gunnewijk will be the first to hold the position as the Dutch Federation (KNWU) seeks to divide responsibilities for the national squad.
Gunnewijk, who took a silver medal in the team time trial at the 2012 World Championships, retired from racing in 2015. She has since completed the UCI's Directeur Sportive diploma course and had a stint with Mitchelton-Scott as a trainee DS. Since 2017, Gunnewijk has been the lead coach for the junior women's team and the assistant para-cycling coach. This new role will allow her to follow her riders from the bottom right to the top of the sport as it will encompass the full age range of riders.
"It is great that I am responsible for the entire selection," Gunnewijk said. "This way I can follow the talents even better, I can coach them longer and I can see how they develop. You know what is going on and can continue the talent development through the cooperation with the teams.
"This certainly applies to the junior women, because we have to ensure new growth towards the elite women. At the elite level, we currently have a very nice and strong group and we continue to do what we have been doing for a long time; keep on driving and performing at the championships."
The Dutch women's team have been a particularly strong force in cycling over the years with 2018 no difference. While a mistake at the European Championships put paid to a shot at victory, they still came home with a silver medal. There were no such errors at the UCI Road World Championships as Annemiek van Vleuten claimed her second time trial title and Anna van der Breggen ensured another Dutch clean sweep with her first road race victory.
In the past, both the Dutch men's and women's teams have been looked after by the same person. Former rider Thorwald Veneberg was the most recent incumbent, but he has recently stepped up to become the general manager of the KNWU, leaving the position vacant. The men's coach is yet to be confirmed but former Sunweb coach Adriaan Helmantel is rumoured to be taking over the position.
Veneberg believes that the division of duties will allow for the coaches to follow the individual athletes better.
"Because of this split, even more attention is paid to the athletes, especially during the championships," said Veneberg. "In addition, it is good that one person is responsible for the entire line of women, so Loes Gunnewijk can guide the junior women to the elite."