Who is Shirin van Anrooij? Trek-Segafredo's track and 'cross talent

Shirin van Anrooij
Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) (Image credit: Trek-Segafredo)

Shirin van Anrooij will be joining Trek-Segafredo in her first full season on the Women's WorldTour. She's just 18 years old and a former junior cyclo-cross world champion who was offered a chance join the Trek-Segafredo training camp last winter before singing a contract to race with the team as a trainee in August. 

With a two-year contract in hand, Van Anrooij is looking forward to her first full season racing with the number-one ranked team in the world, where she hopes to become a future contender in races like the Spring Classics and the Giro Rosa. 

Cyclingnews spoke with Van Anrooij from the Trek-Segafredo training camp held in Italy in January.

Cyclingnews: Have you always combined multiple disciplines in cycling?

Shirin van Anrooij: I come from track racing, but I did race on the road and in cyclo-cross since I was young at around eight years old. I quit road racing for a long time but I’ve come back to focus on both road and cyclo-cross in the last couple of years. 

CN: Are you supported to race both cyclo-cross and road at Trek-Segafredo?

SVA: Yes, I have a lot of support from both teams and they are working to make me a better athlete in both disciplines. The coaches work together and I have a schedule that we create together so that my cyclo-cross season doesn’t interrupt the road season and vice versa. 

CN: What’s been the best part about being at the Trek-Segafredo camp in January?

SVA: A bit of everything. Everything is so new, but I'm able to ride with all the riders that I really look up to, and so it’s nice to get to know everyone. Last February, I was with the women’s team at the training camp in Spain, but it was not sure at that time if I was going to be signing on with this team. Everything was so big in terms of marketing, mechanics, everything is so much more professional than what I was used to.

CN: How did this full-time contract come about?

SVA: I was first-year junior when I was in contact with the team, but I wasn't sure at that time if I wanted to focus on the road, too. I was racing cyclo-cross and just discovering road racing. I later did some races [at the end of] last season as a stagiaire, and at that time, I already knew that I was staying with the team for the next two years. 

Shirin Van Anrooij

Van Anrooij won the first junior women's world title at last year's 'cross Worlds (Image credit: Getty Images)

CN: What will be your road programme for 2021?

SVA: I will start in Belgium at Le Samyn in March. I will ride the Healthy Ageing Tour and Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy. I'll do a lot of climbing races and stage races, so that's nice. 

CN: What can we expect from you as a rider and how do you fit into the Trek-Segafredo team?

SVA: When I look back to the last years, I’m good at the stage racing with lots of climbing and time trialling. As a junior, I was not that good at sprinting with a big group, and so I like climbing but I also like cobble racing like Paris-Roubaix, or races like this would be so awesome. I am a cyclo-cross rider and those races would be closer to cyclo-cross.

CN: Trek-Segafredo are a relatively new team [starting their third season] but they are ranked the number-one team in the world. Does it feel daunting for a young rider to come into such a successful team?

SVA: Yes. It feels unbelievable. I started with the team last year at Tour de l’Ardeche and I was scared to start racing with them because I had no idea what my level would be compared to the other elite riders. I don’t have very big goals for this season because I want to see how it goes and how I can perform with the elites, and to help and get to know the team. I never raced for a team and so this is a big change and I need to learn a lot.

CN: Are there riders that you have specifically been learning from on the team?

SVA: Everyone is trying to help me and they are all very supportive. In my first race last year, I was together with Trixi [Worrack], Lauretta [Hanson] and Audrey [Cordon-Ragot], and they helped me riding in the bunch to get more to the front, get bottles from the car, and they were teaching me. Ina [Teutenberg] has helped me gain more confidence ahead of races and makes me believe in myself. I was always nervous that everyone was faster than me. I’m close with Elynor [Backstedt] because she is my age and I knew her before we joined the team.

CN: Do the younger riders and the neo-pros stick together?

SVA: Everyone gets along with everyone. It’s one big group and that’s nice. I’m close with Elynor, though, because we are the same age, we think the same, and we both don’t really know what is going to happen during the elite races, and so we have so much to learn. It’s nice that we both have so much to learn together. 

The Netherlands' Shirin van Anrooij on her way to fifth place in the under-23 women's race at the UEC Cyclo-Cross European Championships in 's-Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands

Van Anrooij in action at 'Cross Euros (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

CN: Do you also have opportunities with the Dutch National Team?

SVA: I’m turning into an under-23 rider and so I’m part of that programme and so there will be training camps, but it is not as professional as the elite team. There is still a lot of support from the national team and they are looking out for riders and pay attention. There are no [road] Worlds for under-23 [women] and there are too many strong elite riders for us to get a spot on the team at something like Worlds. 

CN: Tell us about where you’re from and the type of riding you do?

SVA: I’m from the south-west about three kilometres from the sea, so it’s flat and windy. I’m used to riding next to the sea and into the wind on really flat roads. I sometimes go to Limburg in the Netherlands to train in the hills instead of only riding on the flat roads.

CN: How does a rider from the flats in the Netherlands become a climber?

SVA: I don’t know. When I was little, I loved riding, running, mountain biking and cyclo-cross uphill. I always liked the uphill races. When I was young, I went to France a lot to climb mountains. I don’t have the body to become a sprinter. I can’t explain why I'm a climber. The national team coach says that when I am riding on a long bridge with a lot of wind and with a lot of head wind, it’s a bit like climbing because I have to push a lot of power just to go forward. It’s kind of like climbing a mountain but without the stunning views.

CN: Where do you see your future in cycling?

SVA: I really hope to become a good stage racer at the Giro Rosa or good at the nice Classics. I really want to do well in time trials, too. If I had to choose one big goal that I want to work towards, it would be the Giro Rosa.

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Kirsten Frattini
Women's Editor

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.