Van der Breggen: It’s important to know if the Tour de France is happening
'We want a women’s calendar but we need to wait and see how the coronavirus develops'
Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) is patiently awaiting news of revised late-season calendar for the Women’s WorldTour but she believes it’s important for the sport on a whole to first have confirmation of the Tour de France. Ultimately, however, the former registered nurse says it will be the coronavirus that dictates when, where, and if, racing will resume this season.
"It’s important to know if the Tour de France is happening, also for women’s cycling, because it’s has a big financial importance for the UCI, National Federations and teams. They have a calendar proposed but, of course, nothing is sure yet," Van der Breggen told Cyclingnews.
It’s going to be a bit of trying out [potential dates] and seeing if it is possible, then there is a sort of plan, and that is all that can happen in this period. You try to make some goals to see if it will work, and if it doesn’t work, then it’s not happening.
"For women’s cycling, of course, we want to have a calendar but we need to wait and see how the coronavirus develops."
The UCI announced the rescheduled dates for the Tour de France from August 29 through September 20, and stated that calendar revisions would have a priority on three Grand Tours and five Monuments, along with the World Championships, European Championships and various National Championships.
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Fourteen rounds of the 22-event Women’s WorldTour have been cancelled due to COVID-19. The UCI confirmed a general framework for the women’s calendar that could see most of the spring’s major one-day races happen between September and November, while the Giro Rosa has requested to be held from September 5-13.
Van der Breggen said she would be happy to race even a small calendar this fall, but if she could choose to race one event it would be the UCI Road World Championships currently scheduled for September 20-27 in Aigle-Martigny, Switzerland.
The UCI is expected to publish a post-COVID-19 men's and women's calendar on May 5.
"I think we should be happy when we can race at all this year," Van der Breggen said. "That is the main thing. I would like to do the World Championships, for sure, and if that can happen it will be good.
"But If and when we can race again, it also means that the situation with the virus has gotten better, and that will be the most important thing, not only for cycling but for health, businesses and the economical situation."
Van der Breggen graduated from nursing school before turning to professional cycling in 2012. She has taken the public health regulations surrounding COVID-19 in the Netherlands seriously. She’s also pleased that nursing staff are getting the recognition they deserve for working on the front lines in hospitals around the world.
"I studied nursing and I am a nurse. I graduated in 2012. I don’t have my registration anymore and I am not active as a nurse. I still have some friends who are nurses. I have some friends working on the front lines in intensive care. Nurses who are on the front lines of the coronavirus are taking risks to save people, society.
"Even before the virus, nurses have always been under enormous pressure, work overtime and are not paid enough for the jobs they do. I’ve always felt that nursing staff are important and valuable, they are always working, always saving lives, and now everyone is appreciating it. When this is over, they deserve more appreciation for the rest of their careers as nurses, they deserve that much."
Athletes in the Netherlands can train outside, and Van der Breggen said she has spread her training across both outdoor rides and indoor training using the Zwift platform. She said she’s also been work on her time trial strength and core stability.
Boels Dolmans will participate in the upcoming Zwift Tour For All held from May 4-8.
"Normal life, no, we are not normally at home this much, and that is quite different being home for a long period. We’re quite lucky in the Netherlands because we can still ride outside, as long as you are alone, and that’s good especially because the weather has been nice. So, I can do some riding and I’ve been Zwifting a little bit more. It’s nice to ride with people in a social ride or a race, virtually.
"We have no idea when we are racing, so that is strange, but I try and keep in my mind that maybe we can race again later in the year.
"I try to enjoy riding now because there's no pressure or anything to worry about, for example, if you are not in shape. It’s also a nice period without any pressure, no travelling, so it can also be good for us mentally, to have the time to appreciate what we have at home.
"If you’re family is healthy, and you have few problems, and the world around you is like this, than it’s important to keep thinking about the positive things."
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.