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Annemiek van Vleuten blog: New inspiration at Movistar Team

Annemiek van Vleuten
Annemiek van Vleuten with her new Movistar Team (Image credit: Photo Gomez Sport / Movistar Team)

My move to Movistar Team has inspired me and given me positive energy as we head into a new season. I feel very welcome in this programme and with my new teammates. 

Everyone is so open toward the women's team, and we are treated equally to the men. When I saw that the team put me in the middle of our new team avatar picture, which was my first real welcome to the team, I was pleasantly surprised, and I think that's a strong message. Creating a feeling of equality starts at the top with our sponsors and our management and within our team. 

This week at our training camp, the guys invited us to join them for rides, and they're keen to integrate our team with theirs, and they treat us as professionals. It's exciting that Pablo Lastras will be working with the women's team this year, and I think it's great that a director from the men's programme wants to direct our team instead. 

Usually, directors see women's cycling as a step toward working with men's programme and not the other way around. It such a nice environment here, and I feel very welcome. Their professionalism has exceeded my expectations.

People wondered why I chose to sign with Movistar. I believe that we need to keep bringing progress and development to women's cycling to keep our sport interesting, and that can't happen by putting all of the strongest riders on one team. It would have been crazy for me to go to a team that already has multiple leaders. 

It reminds me of when I started racing, and we had powerful teams like Flexpoint, HTC-Columbia, and Marianne Vos’ team DSB Bank- Nederland Bloeit. It was these three teams that took responsibility in all the races. More recently, I think it's been good to see that more teams have grown and can take responsibility during our races. Similarly, sometimes the World Championships are not as interesting because all the strongest Dutch riders are racing on one team. That event isn't the best example of how exciting our races are if you compare it to events held during the season with our trade teams. 

I don't want to go back to how women's racing was when I first started, with only three teams capable of taking responsibility at the races. Our events are much more compelling now that there are many teams at the highest level that are strong enough to race for the victories.

In Movistar, I saw a strong team with a high level of professionalism but that lacked a team leader. I knew that they were ready to step up from the success that they have already had over the last three years. I'm not coming into this team to teach the riders about bike racing because they are all professionals. I hope to inspire them, and if I can add a little bit of inspiration to this team, that gives me back such positive energy. All they need is just one or two per cent more confidence to get the winning results themselves.

I look forward to winning, too, but I also want to see my teammates win, and I'll be happy when I can help my teammates win.

So, what can you expect from Movistar Team this year? 

I hope you see us winning bike races but not only with me. It won't just be about when I will make my move in the races, but instead, we will be a team to watch and to take into account when it comes to our race plans and strategies. We will have different options for winning races and more cards to play. I will be satisfied when our riders see that winning isn't that complicated.

 You can also expect to see us having fun on the bike and off the bike. I've already seen this quality within Movistar during the previous years, which will not change. We will keep our team spirit, ride as a unit, and start winning with multiple riders on our team in 2021.

Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team Women) is a two-time winner of the Giro Rosa, a two-time winner of the individual time trial at the World Championships, both in 2017 and 2018, and winner of the road race title at the World Championships in 2019. You can visit her website here.