Yesterday the Dutch cycling federation announced its team for the Olympic Games in Rio – sparking pride for some and disappointment for others.
The road race squad of four consists of London Gold medallist Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen, plus Ellen van Dijk and Annemiek van Vleuten.
There have been question marks over Vos’ Olympic selection for some time, following an injury which saw her out of competition for most of 2015. However, she returned to racing this spring and won Pajot Hills Classic and the 7 Dorpenomloop in Aalburg.
Van der Breggen had an incredible 2015 season, winning the Giro Rosa overall, Fleche Wallone, and La Course, as well as the Dutch National Time Trial. She won the Fleche Wallone once again in 2016, too, proving her strength in a tough and hilly race.
Van Dijk, known for her time trialling strengths, finished her 2015 season with a broken collarbone sustained at La Course. However, so far in 2016 she’s shown her strength – winning the TT and overall at the Energiewacht Tour and stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar.
The final rider – Annemiek van Vleuten – has ridden to support Vos at previous events and was second at the Energiewacht Tour. Competing in the hilly Rio time trial will be Van der Breggen and Van Dijk.
Of course, in any selection process, there will always be disappointment. Boels Dolmans – trade team for Ellen van Dijk posted on Facebook this morning to express their pleasure at her selection, and sadness that team mate Chantal Blaak was not on the roster.
Blaak has seen excellent results so far in 2016, with four victories and two UCI Women’s World Tour Wins.
They said: “We were quiet yesterday when the Dutch National Team announced their selection for the 2016 Olympic Game because we were a bit surprised to see who had made the four-rider squad. Of course we’re thrilled that Ellen van Dijk heads to Rio as a starter in both the individual time trial and the road race, but we’re absolutely crushed for Chantal Blaak to have missed out on selection. As most of you know, Chantal was a star of the spring with four victories, including two huge UCI Women’s WorldTour wins, and nine podium placings (often coming second and third to her winning teammates). We, like she, expected to see her in Rio based on her personal results and selfless teamwork.”
Team manager for Rabo Liv, home to Vos and Van der Breggen, Eric van den Boom said: “Marianne has fought to return to the highest level and Anna has grown on many fronts. It will be her first Olympics ever. An Olympic season means a busy and hectic season for a team. The Olympics are in addition to the already overcrowded team program. We do our utmost to deliver two strong riders.”