Anna van der Breggen began the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia with a bronze medal in the team time trial with Rabo-Liv, then added a silver to her haul in the individual time trial. The Giro Donne and Flèche Wallonne winner is aiming for one better in the elite women's road race on Saturday. Cyclingnews sat down with the Dutch rider to talk about last year's Worlds disappointment, racing in the shadow of Marianne Vos and what to expect on Saturday.
Cyclingnews: You were only a couple seconds off the gold medal in the time trial. Did that give you confidence for Saturday's road race?
Anna van der Breggen: It does, it says something about my shape at the moment, but a road race and time trial are very different races. I'm also a bit nervous for it. It's an important race and we want to do well. It's difficult because we need a hard race, so we have to find a way to do that. I think there are lots of teams who need a hard race. I think if you look at the finish, it's really something for Lizzie Armitstead, so all of the other teams need a hard race otherwise it will be a sprint for her. So I think we need to ride smart, see how it goes, and make it a hard race but not only counting on our team.
CN: In addition to Lizzie Armitstead, who else do you think could do well here, other than yourself?
AvdB: It's difficult to say because it's a hard lap, but there needs to be a race otherwise I think there's a lot of time to come back. You have Jolien d'Hoore, Pauline Ferrand Prevot, of course. I think the Polish federation will be here with a strong team, especially for Kasia [Niewiadoma]. I think that the most dangerous ones you can never allow [up the road] - for instance Emma [Johansson] is always good. A lot of more girls.
CN: Last year you missed out on the time trial and road race entirely...
AvdB: Yes, last year we crashed in the team time trial, and I broke my pelvis. It wasn't totally broken, which was good because I could walk with crutches after a couple days. The bad thing was I couldn't do the road race, and I was really in shape at the moment. The Worlds are a big goal for everybody, it's the most important race of the year, so I was really devastated about that. I had a really good winter after that because I was really motivated to come back and to race again.
CN: You started out the year very strong, winning Het Nieuwsblad, podiums in World Cups, the win in Flèche Wallonne, then the Dutch TT title and Giro Donne later in the summer. It's a very long year, how do you stay in top form throughout the season?
AvdB: We had a break in May, where we did an altitude training camp. It was a really big break. Before that I had a week of rest, so that month was really different from the rest of the season. I could rest before and get ready for the end of the season again. It's a long year, but you go from race to race, and in between I have some rest before building up again. You make a good plan for the season and hope it's OK until this last race.
CN: In previous years the Dutch have worked for Marianne Vos, but this year she's not racing. Do you think she will be back next year?
AvdB: Marianne is still in the team, but it's about her recovery, it's not going so fast. It's why she's not here. Hopefully she will have a good winter and recover fully, because if she doesn't she can't race. She has the whole winter, hopefully she will be back in the beginning of next season.
CN: How does the team's strategy differ, racing without Vos? Does that give you more opportunities?
AvdB: Of course it gives opportunity to show yourself, but it's difficult for us because if you have a strong sprinter you only have to stay in the first group. Our team is very strong, and we need to make use of all the girls. I think the race will be fun if we do that, and we also need it. Maybe a bit more difficult to race without Marianne, but it's great to do it differently from normal this year.
CN: The Dutch, like the American team, is full of talent, but in the Olympic Games the team is very small. It must be a real battle to be selected for Rio, right?
AvdB: I'm happy I'm not the [national coach]. The only thing you can do as a rider is get results and show you can deserve the spot. I really like the race in Rio, it's really beautiful with hills, cobbles, and some difficult sections. Johan [Lammerts] has to figure out who is the best to do it. We have a good country, and sometimes that's an advantage, but sometimes it is difficult.
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