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Demi Vollering knows what it will take to win the Tour de France Femmes

Demi Vollering (SD Worx)
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Demi Vollering is embarking on her second season at SD Worx with a big goal of winning the most talked about event on the 2022 calendar - Tour de France Femmes. The Dutch talent believes that she knows what it will take to beat rivals like Annemiek van Vleuten and Elisa Longo Borghini, and that claiming the yellow jersey has the potential inspire the next generation of young female riders.

“I’m looking forward to the [Tour de France Femmes], it’s important for women’s cycling and I think we can inspire a lot of women cyclist by showing us in the Tour de France, and in really hard races. It’s really important that we have the Tour, again, and it’s important for the next generation to get more riders into the peloton. It’s good that we have the Tour, with media on it, it’s important.”

The route revealed for the Tour de France Femmes promises a balance of flat and punchy stages, sectors of gravel, and two mountain finishes all packed into the eight days of racing set to take place from July 24-31.

Vollering moved to Switzerland last year and said that she resides roughly 70 kilometres from the Vosges mountains, which will host the final two stages of the race, particularly up the La Planche des Belles Filles that marks the conclusion of the event and where the overall winner will be crowned.

“I like hard races and those last two [stages] are really hard. I like climbing, a lot, so I think I can do great. I’ve shown that in Spain [Vuelta a Burgos] and in the Giro d’Italia Donne, that I can manage pretty good at the longer climbs. If I train this year a little bit more in that, then I hope that I can become better on the longer climbs.”

Vollering won Liège-Bastone-Liège and La Course, and finished third overall at both Vuelta a Burgos and Giro d’Italia Donne last year but she is hoping to take the next step in her career as the team leader at SD Worx. She has often been compared to Anna van der Breggen, who has retired and moved into a sports director role at SD Worx. 

“I don’t feel so much pressure but I see it as a big compliment that people see me as the new Anna,” said Vollering, who is working on a training plan with Van der Breggen for 2022. 

“On the other hand, I am a different person, and do things different in my way. I want to become like her because she is a great person and a great rider, and if I can be a little bit like her then it will be really nice.”

She will face fierce competition to win the Tour de France Femmes, particularly from the likes of compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), to name a few, but Vollering said that she knows what it will take to win the yellow jersey.

“It is still a secret, of course,” Vollering laughed, but also pointed out that she is working on her strength on longer climbs, “but we have a really strong team and that is an advantage. In the end, it’s just … we need to ride as fast as we can. I hope that I can be a little bit stronger than Annemiek. I don’t know, we still need to find out how we will do that. I’m looking forward to the battles.”

There is notably no time trial in the Tour de France Femmes route, and while Vollering hopes to see one included in future editions, she believes it is to her advantage not to have a time trial stage this year.

“It’s not too bad for us that there is no time trial. I’m still improving in time trials and not the best, maybe. I cannot win a Tour with a time trial, maybe I can, I don’t know. For us, it is not bad that there is no time trial. I would like to improve and grow in the time trial. On the other hand, I find it a pity because we have a lot of racing but not so many time trials. If you want to improve then you need to do it more often.”

Vollering is revelling in the opportunity to race across the gravel stage 4 that includes six climbs and four sections of unpaved roads in the last 60km of the 126km race from Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube. She also hopes to do some separate gravel racing in the future.

“I really like the gravel,” Vollering said, who would like to incorporate gravel racing into her season when she has the opportunity. “That stage, I really like, and it fits me. I’m looking forward to the whole Tour de France and to see what we can do there. I know from the [riders] who will ride the Tour de France that they liked the gravel stage, so I’m looking forward to that one.”

Asked what the yellow jersey means to her personally, Vollering said, “… if I win the yellow jersey, I would really like to inspire young girls to step on a bike and ride or race, go outside, for me, that is important to motivate and inspire people to go outside and enjoy nature, ride their bikes. Eventually, I hope that more young girls step into bike racing. I hope I can do this by winning the yellow jersey, to inspire a lot of people, and that I can show that cycling is beautiful sport. That, for me, is important.”

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