Anna van der Breggen has withdrawn from the Dutch team for the UEC Road European Championships after struggling during the four-day Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta. The World Champion is now in the midst of investigating why she's unable to find her normal hard to beat form.
The SD Worx rider, who is set to retire at the end of the season, said she had told national coach Loes Gunnewijk that she wouldn’t line up for Netherlands at the European Championships road race in Trentino, September 8-12.
“With my current level, there's nothing I can do at the European Championships,” said Van der Breggen in a team statement. “Another Dutch rider would be of greater value to the team at the European Championships than me."
There are never any shortage of options for the Dutch team, with the nation currently monopolising half of the places in the top ten of the women's world rankings, however, there was every expectation that Van der Breggen would continue to be an important part of the squad as she finished her final season, bowing out of an impressive career at her peak.
The World Champion in the time trial and road race had a busy summer race schedule, running from La Course to her winning Giro d’Italia effort and the Olympic Games.
She took bronze in the time trial, saying afterwards she had an off day and "the wattage was not what it normally is". The 31 year old then had a break until GP de Plouay, which she didn’t finish, before taking on the four-day Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.
“I just didn't have the power in Spain to follow when it was a hard race," Van der Breggen said.
"After the Olympics I started training again and in the GP de Plouay I was able to achieve a decent level. Mentally, I'm still looking forward to the last races later this year. I did my best in Spain to make the best out of it, but physically I was not at my normal level at all.”
Her general classification result of 58th and best stage result of 25th at Challenge by La Vuelta were a stark contrast to her results the rest of the year, with the rider more often in the top five than not.
Van der Breggen, who won the European Championships road race in 2016 and time trial in 2020, is now looking into what is behind the performance slip at a time when the UCI Road World Championships rapidly approaches.
The racing in the Flanders region of Belgium runs from September 19 to 26, but it is not yet clear what the remainder of Van der Breggen’s final season will look like.
“I have no idea why I'm not at my level right now. We will be conducting several investigations in the coming days,” said Van der Breggen. “Based on that, I determine my further program this year."
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