Annemiek van Vleuten
Van Vleuten won the World Championships road race in 2019, and the World Championships time trial twice in 2017 and 2018. In the Olympic Games, she crashed out of the lead of the road race in Rio 2016, before winning the gold medal at the time trial event, and a silver in the road race five years later at Tokyo 2020. She won the Dutch National Road Race Championships in 2012, and won the Dutch National Time Trial Championships four times between 2014 and 2019.
Van Vleuten has won both of women's cycling Grand Tours – winning the Giro d'Italia Donne three times in 2018, 2019 and 2022, and winning the Tour de France Femmes in 2022. She became the first woman to complete a Giro – Tour double in the same year.
In winning the UCI Women's Road World Cup in 2011, and the UCI Women's World Tour in 2018 and 2021, Van Vleuten won multiple stage races and one day events. She has won cycling monuments including Liège–Bastogne–Liège Femmes, Strade Bianche Donne and Tour of Flanders for Women on multiple occasions. She has been awarded Dutch women's cyclist of the year three times. Van Vleuten will retire at the end of the 2023 season.
As a child, Annemiek played football, gymnastics and horse riding – and rode her bike to school. Van Vleuten studied animal sciences and specialised in zoonoses and epidemiology at the University of Wageningen, graduating with a master's degree in epidemiology in 2007. In 2005, she was advised by her doctor to take up cycling following a knee injury playing football.
Starting her cycling career at amateur teams in 2007 aged 25, Van Vleuten joined the Dutch DSB Bank-Nederland Bloeit team in 2009. Quitting her office job in 2010 to become a full time professional cyclist, her first major win was at the 2010 Ronde van Drenthe. She then won La Route de France later that year. In 2011, she won the UCI Women's Road World Cup, winning key races like Tour of Flanders for Women, GP de Plouay – Bretagne and Open de Suède Vårgårda.
In 2012, Van Vleuten represented the Netherlands in the Women's road race at the 2012 Summer Olympics, along with Ellen van Dijk, Marianne Vos and Loes Gunnewijk. The race was won by Vos. She also won the Dutch National Road Race Championships. After a less than successful 2013, she won the Dutch National Time Trial Championship for the first time in 2014. In 2015 she joined the Bigla Pro Cycling Team. She took part in the 2015 European Games for the Netherlands, in cycling, more specifically, the women's time trial; Van Vleuten won a bronze medal.
In 2016, Van Vleuten joined the Orica-AIS team. On 7 August 2016, while leading the road race at the 2016 Olympic Games, Van Vleuten crashed head first on the steep descent from Vista Chinesa after missing her braking point before a sharp bend, 12 km (7.5 mi) before the finish. The crash knocked her unconscious, and she was hospitalised with three lumbar spinal fractures and a severe concussion. Despite her injuries, Van Vleuten was riding a bicycle within ten days of her accident and made a winning return to competition one month later, taking the overall victory and two stage wins at the 2016 Belgium Tour. She also won her second Dutch National Time Trial Championship.
World Championships, Giro Rosa victories
In 2017, she became world champion for the first time, winning the time trial event in Bergen, Norway. She also won the Holland Ladies Tour, La Course by Le Tour de France, and retained her national Time Trial Championship.
2018 was Van Vleuten's most successful year of her career – she won the 2018 Giro Rosa (winning 3 stages), she defended her world title in the time trial at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, and she won the UCI Women's World Tour after multiple victories at events such as La Course and Holland Ladies Tour. She ended the 2018 season with a total of 13 victories.
In 2019, Van Vleuten defended the Giro Rosa, winning by over 3 minutes and taking all major classifications (general, points and mountain). At the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Harrogate, she won the road race after riding solo for 100 kilometres (62 miles) of the 149-kilometre (93-mile) race, holding back the chasing groups. She also won the Dutch national time trial championship for the fourth time. Despite winning the Giro and major races such as Liège–Bastogne–Liège Femmes and Strade Bianche Donne, Van Vleuten finished second in the 2019 UCI Women's World Tour standings behind fellow Dutch rider Marianne Vos.
Olympic Games, Giro-Tour double
In the disrupted 2020 season, she won the European Road Championships, as well as Strade Bianche Donne for the second time. For the 2021 season, Van Vleuten jointed the Movistar Team. She started her season by winning Tour of Flanders for Women, 10 years after her first victory.
In July 2021, she was one of four Dutch cyclists competing in the 137-kilometre (85-mile) women's Olympic road race in Tokyo, where she won the silver medal in the race, crossing the finish line 75 seconds behind Austria's Anna Kiesenhofer. With around 60 kilometres (37 miles) left in the race, Van Vleuten crashed, but rejoined the race. Her attack with 2.1 kilometres (1.3 miles) to go secured her second place. When Van Vleuten finished the race, she celebrated thinking she had won, as she was unaware of Kiesenhofer being in front of her. Three days later, she became Olympic champion by winning the gold medal in the time trial.
She won the UCI Women's World Tour for the second time, following victories at Challenge by La Vuelta and Ladies Tour of Norway. In October 2021 at the end of the season, she crashed in the first ever Paris–Roubaix Femmes, breaking her pubis bone in two places. In December 2021, Van Vleuten was named Dutch cyclist of the year (Keetie van Oosten-Hage Trophy) for a third time, winning the award in 2017, 2019 and 2021.
In 2022, Van Vleuten started her season by winning two classics – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and Liège–Bastogne–Liège Femmes for the second time. In June 2022, Van Vleuten signed a one-year contract extension with the Movistar Team, with the intention to retire from cycling at the end of the 2023 season. She won her third Giro d'Italia Donne the following month, winning two stages and the points classification.
Later the same month, she was named as one of the pre-race favourites for the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes. During the Tour she suffered from stomach issues early in the race, which cost her over a minute in the standings and put her near the bottom of the top 10 in the overall standings. On stage 7 she blew the race apart with a solo attack for the stage win, which also put her in the yellow jersey as overall race leader by over 3 minutes ahead of Demi Vollering. The next day she sealed the Tour victory, defeating Vollering on the final climb and claiming her second stage win of the race. Vollering was the only rider to keep her within five minutes and only five other riders were able to keep her within 10 minutes. She became the first woman to complete a Giro – Tour double in the same year.