Annemiek van Vleuten is making slow and steady progress as she recovers from her crash at the UCI Road World Championships in September. The Dutchwoman has been back on the bike properly for just over a week and is planning to embark on a small training camp to ramp up her training ahead of the new season.
Van Vleuten was a favourite to win the road race world title in Innsbruck, Austria, but crashed heavily with more than 90 kilometres remaining, injuring her knee. She was able to complete the race and even helped set up Anna van der Breggen's race-winning move. However, it was clear at the finish line that she was in pain, and scans later revealed that she had fractured her tibial plateau. Two days later she underwent surgery and was forced to take four weeks off the bike. Late last month, she began some gentle rides on her home trainer, but now she hopes to push herself a little bit more.
"My recovery has been going very well. Eight days ago was the first time I could go back on the bike with click in pedals, and now I am slowly progressing and I am thinking in two weeks to go to the sun and start a bit more my proper training," Van Vleuten said.
Van Vleuten's comments were published on the Mitchelton-Scott website as part of a larger look forward to the 2019 Giro Rosa. On Saturday, Tuttobici revealed that the Italian race would include the Passo di Gavia next year, having featured a summit finish on the Zoncolan this season. Van Vleuten won on the Zoncolan en route to a dominant overall victory at the race. The inclusion of another mythical climb is a big motivator for Van Vleuten in the winter months.
"I am always super motivated to come back, but it makes me even more excited to set some goals again to win the Giro, and winning last year on the Zoncolan was so cool. It's very good for women's cycling to add a climb that everybody knows. It gives more body to the tour," said Van Vleuten.
"I'm very happy the organisers are taking women's cycling very seriously. They've always done so at the Giro Rosa. I think it was already in 2010 that we finished at the top of the Stelvio, and as a rider who had just started their career, that was something I won't easily forget. It makes the Giro something special to finish on an epic, iconic climb. I think it's very good from the organisers and for the progression of women's cycling."
Van Vleuten, the reigning and double time trial world champion, added that she would like an uphill test against the clock, as was the case at the 2018 Giro.
"For next year on my wish list is another uphill time trial. I wouldn't mind that but also a flat time trial. Maybe that's even better for me because usually you can get rid of more of the climbers," said Van Vleuten.
Spratt excited about Gavia inclusion
Van Vleuten's teammate Amanda Spratt also expressed her pleasure at the inclusion of the Gavia. Spratt enjoyed a bumper 2018 season, which saw her take wins at the Santos Women's Tour and the Emakumeen Bira, as well as a silver medal at the World Championships and third overall at the Giro Rosa – plus a stage victory. With an elevation of well over 2,000 metres, Spratt says that the altitude will definitely play a role.
"When I read the news of the Gavia being one of the finishes of the Giro Rosa next year, I was just really excited. There's so much history on that climb and it's such an iconic climb. I can't wait to race up it," said Spratt.
"The altitude will definitely be a factor on this stage. The Gavia is not far from where I base myself at altitude, so I've ridden the climb before and I know I'll be able to train on the climb more beforehand. It gives me a lot of motivation for my training camps next season."
The Giro Rosa is set to take place from July 5 to 14, and the full route will be unveiled in March.