Voxwomen Meets Rabobank-Liv’s Anna van der Breggen

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Q: Congrats on the win at Flèche. How was that for you? Two years in a row must have been pretty special. And a nice extra birthday present for you too! 

A: Thank you! And for sure it was really special. Winning a race like Fleche Wallone once is difficult, but doing it a second time is even more difficult. Expectations are higher, I knew myself I was able to win that race and so were the rest of the bunch. These things don’t make it easier;)

Q: One win is pretty impressive at Flèche, two even more impressive. But to win two editions back to back with all of the pressure of pre race favourite is even more impressive. How were you feeling before the race and how did you manage to deal with the added pressure? 

A: Well, every race is a new one and all chances are open. Of course there are some races that are bigger than others and Fleche Wallone is for sure one of the bigger ones. That’s something that really motivates me, especially this year because I was riding good races in the spring with a lot of top ten results but I had no victory until Fleche. I do try to see every race as a new opportunity and maybe because of that, I am not as nervous as others might be. I try to win, and if I don’t.. I try it again next time.

Q: A race can be lost in seconds, from km 0 to the final metre, but theres always that one finite moment that you realise the race can be won. Where do you think that moment was at Flèche? Do you remember thinking this is it, I’ve won? 

A: I felt good in the race, so I knew I had a good chance in a race like Fleche. Riding with Evelyn Stevens to the Mur was pretty exciting. She’d won the race once so she knows how to climb the Mur. So I was not sure on this years victory until the last 100 metres. 

Q: So it was your birthday a day before Flèche. How does a pro cyclist celebrate her birthday mid season? 

A: Well my birthday is always around the ‘Fleche period.’ So not much birthday for me. Although this year was different because my friend arranged a surprise party the evening before I left for Belgium. I came home on my bike and suddenly the whole family came down from the stairs. You should have seen my face.. that was a great moment and I felt really blessed with so many people around me. And yes I also had some cake;)

Q: Keeping your love of the sport must be pretty difficult when its something that you do day in, day out? Do you still love cycling? How do you keep it fresh and ‘not just a job’?

A: Difficult? Mostly being a cyclist is not difficult at all! As you say, it’s not just a job.. It is a passion and I feel blessed that I could make a profession out of it. As long as I am passionate about cycling, I will still love riding races. Yes, I have days that I rather skip a training or a race or I feel frustrated when it’s not going how I planned. But 99% of days I really like to do what I am doing. That’s what it is all about.

Q: What does a typical rest day look like for you?

A: Doing all other things that has nothing to do with a race bike.

Q: Before you turned pro you spent some time in Ghana on a nursing internship. That must have been a pretty incredible experience? Can you tell us a little more about how this came about, and would you like to go back sometime? 

A: It was an incredible experience, indeed. Those months were part of our school education, where we got the chance to go see and help nursing in a foreign country. It is for sure a part of my life that I will keep close to me. The differences between our cultures in Europe and countries like Ghana are big. We really took part in the culture of Ghana and it took some time to understand people but they showed us to love different things in life. Being born in the Netherlands, it’s nothing special to have the opportunity to study and we’re always busy, mostly with materialistic things and ourself. Ghana showed us another way of life which I’ll always remember. I was inspired by those months which is also why I am ambassador of the Muskathlon campaign of Compassion. A great initiative focused on cycling and attention for the world around us.

Q: What team mate of yours is the best to follow on Twitter? Why? 

A: To be honest, I really can’t pick one. Most of the riders in our team are very active on social media. All in a different way. The best advice I can give: Follow them all!

Q: We all have dreams, what does the dream season look like for Anna van der Breggen from now on?

A: I am happy with everything I can achieve. But, of course this year there is one big goal. I want that gold medal in Rio. And if not.. I tried;)

Photo Credit: Rabobank-Liv

By Emily Brammeier