Ellen van Dijk: The Hour Record helped to prolong my career

The pain is still fresh in her mind, but only three weeks since setting a new women’s Hour Record of 49.254 kilometres at the Velodrome Suisse, Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) is considering doing it again. 

“Maybe. I would never say no,” Van Dijk told Cyclingnews at the Women’s Tour. “I enjoyed the whole build-up. I mean, it cost a lot of mental and physical preparation and I don’t have a plan yet: it’s not like I can do it again next week. I enjoyed it so much, I might do it again – who knows?”

She thinks the Hour Record project helped to prolong her career by giving her a fresh enjoyment and direction. “Everything I had to do for it was new for me. I last rode on the track ten years ago and I still had to learn so many things, the technique and everything,” Van Dijk said. “I invested so much in it that I think if I did it another time, it would be a bit easier in the way that I’ve gone through so many things already.”

“It’s such an ultimate effort, you have to be at your best at absolutely everything. I have to say, I underestimated the technique a little bit,” she added. “I found out that keeping position and holding the line was very hard to get dialled in. That’s one of the things I struggled a lot with.”

Her standard-setting ride on May 23 was the satisfying culmination of a dream that first popped into her head 15 years ago. “It was the best project I’ve done in my cycling career. It was so, so cool to do it, with so much support from the team,” Van Dijk said. “For sure, it was also the biggest pressure I’ve ever felt because everything was just about me. And the Hour itself was of course super hard, especially the last 15 minutes – I don’t remember that so much. But I knew it was going to be like that. It’s such a special experience, it’s something I will really cherish forever.”

The cutting-edge Speed Concept bike she used will go to the Trek Factory in Wisconsin, but she has the lap bell, a Tissot watch and the memories. “They are all in my head, and that’s what counts the most,” Van Dijk said.

Looking to fresh goals, Paris-Roubaix is on the Dutch powerhouse’s radar. “I have a love-hate relationship with the race. The first year I hated it,” she said, alluding to the crash that left her with concussion. “This year I loved it and it went very well. For sure, it’s an ambition of mine, a race I’d like to win.”

Seventh place there was her best result from the spring Classics. “I think I was in good shape,” she said, reflecting on her campaign. “I won some races [a Setmana Valenciana stage, plus a stage and the overall at the EasyToys Bloeizone Fryslân Tour], which was nice. I also felt I could really help the team in those big Classics, which is satisfying, though it would have been perfect if I’d won one. I didn’t do that but I’m happy with my year so far.” 

Van Dijk is set to race the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (July 24-31) before seeking to defend her European road and world time-trial titles later in the year.

Having joined Trek-Segafredo in 2019, the 35-year-old is in the last year of her contract with the American team. “Nothing has been agreed yet. I am talking with Trek about trying to extend it,” she said. “I’m very happy with the team, they do a great job with me so we’ll see if we can continue this relationship.”

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Andy McGrath

Formerly the editor of Rouleur magazine, Andy McGrath is a freelance journalist and the author of God Is Dead: The Rise and Fall of Frank Vandenbroucke, Cycling’s Great Wasted Talent