The current world champion had recently said she had agreed a two-year contract, hinting she would not stay at Mitchelton-Scott, and Movistar have won the battle for the most successful rider in the peloton.
Van Vleuten has won the last two editions of the Giro Rosa. She won five consecutive times when racing returned after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and last week added the European road race title to her long palmarès.
Van Vleuten revealed her links with the Movistar team go back to 2014 when they invited her to train with her.
"My history with the Movistar Team goes back to many years ago. I got to know the team better as I shared training rides with them during my altitude camps in Sierra Nevada (Spain), back in 2014,” he said when Movistar confirmed her signing.
“I really liked the experience; it felt like a 'Spanish family' for me, I felt really welcomed by them as they were the first professional men's team that invited me to join them in endurance training. The atmosphere with them was so relaxing: no stress on the training, waiting for me after the climbs, and also every evening, staying together after dinner, even playing table tennis with Alejandro Valverde!”
"With regards to the women's team, it feels the same - I look at them like a great group of girls, with the same culture as what I saw in Sierra Nevada. It's a project that attracts me, as much as I'm looking forward to working with head of performance Patxi Vila.
"I'm not the youngest in the team anymore, but I'm super ambitious, and want to perform well for this team. I'm not thinking about the end of my career yet - I'm thinking about how to improve. I hope joining this team, this new environment, can help me find new energy.”
Van Vleuten spent some of the winter training in Colombia and is keen to embrace the Movistar and Spanish-speaking culture.
"And when it comes to Latin culture: yes, I already feel like I have some Latino blood inside of me!” she said. "I really feel at home when I go to southern Europe.
"The mentality of Spanish people, with a good sense of humour, makes for an environment that helps you feel at home, and usually makes you ride stronger. It's about working hard, but also having good fun. A happy cyclist performs better!"
Movistar team manager Sebastián Unzué highlighted just how much van Vleuten’s arrival will transform the team.
"There is one Movistar Team before and one after Annemiek's arrival," he said. "The approach of our team from a competitive standpoint in the next few years will drastically change with Annemiek's signing. Her biggest sporting greatness is that she's arguably the only rider who, in my opinion, can go for any race in the calendar with a real chance to win.
"It's a great challenge for the team, and a big motivation. It makes us hope we can aim high and go for the win, or doing well, in the most relevant events of the season."
"Annemiek is the ideal person to lead this project, one who depicts perfectly many of the sporting and human values this team has always wanted to instil amongst its members. I've always believed that great riders grow up better when having great examples by their side, great leaders, and our young talents will enjoy the best reflection of what it's needed to succeed, with Annemiek being, undoubtedly, the best rider in the world.”
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