Ellen van Dijk recovering from lingering concussion symptoms

2021 UCI World Championships - Flanders - Women Elite Time Trial - Knokke Heist - Bruges 30,3 km - 20/09/2021 - Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands) - Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) - Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021
Ellen van Dijk wins the world title in the time trial at the 2021 World Championships (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The closing months of 2021 were amongst the most successful in Ellen van Dijk’s (Trek-Segafredo) long and prestigious career. She soloed to a dominant victory in the road race at the European Championships and, nine days later, won the world title in the individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships. 

Then, on the wet cobbles of Paris-Roubaix Femmes, she crashed four times, abruptly curtailing this run of form.

The lingering effects of a concussion sustained in one of these crashes are still hampering her preparations for next season, Van Dijk revealed in a conference call with select members of the cycling press on Tuesday.

“I still cannot train the normal number of hours or intensity that I would like to, so I still have to adjust and rest a lot more. Sometimes, I think it’s going quite well and then I have a complete off day and I cannot train. I’m still juggling with it but it’s going better and better,” she said.

Accordingly, the start of her season has been pushed back to the end of February, allowing for a full recovery. First on the menu will be the Spring Classics. “These are my favourite races so I hope to do well and I hope to win one, of course,” Van Dijk said.

Indeed, before her crashes at Paris-Roubaix, Van Dijk had been earmarked as one of the favourites for victory. 

“I think it’s a race which really suits my characteristics but for sure this time it didn’t go my way… I barely finished the race. It wasn’t my race but at least it was a super cool race for the team. Of course I want to win it but, at the same time, I know it’s not just about physical strength and I also pray it’s going to be dry!”

The arc of Van Dijk’s season will also be shaped by the jerseys she will wear as the European road race and individual time trial World Champion. Defending these titles is another important goal for Van Dijk, as is controlling their effect on her mindset.

“Last time I became world champion [in 2013], I really felt the pressure and I thought that every time I had to show that I was the best, and I had to win every race while wearing this jersey,” she said. 

“I learnt from that because it wasn’t a fun year and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I really want to enjoy it now and I want to see everything as a bonus because I have this jersey already.”

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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.