A former speed skater who competed on the track at the Rio Olympics is set to cement her place in cycling with Matrix Pro Cycling.
Dutch sprinter Laurine van Riessen was announced as the newest rider on the Matrix squad today, and she has said that competing in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 is her key goal.
Laurine, 29, took a bronze medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but in 2015 she shifted her focus to the velodrome - taking National Champion honours in the 500m time trial, individual sprint and Keirin. That year she also claimed a Bronze in the European Championships Team Sprint and she is the current National individual sprint champion.
The track cycling convert's image went viral after the 2016 Rio games when she showed impeccable handling skills after a crash caused her to ride on the barriers.
Matrix Pro Cycling announced last year that they would not operate as a UCI team, sending full rosters to races. Instead, they will support a small number of female riders in their individual goals – including Laura Kenny and Elinor Barker, plus Paralympic gold medalists Lora Turnham and Corrine Hall.
As a member of the team, Laurine will become an ambassador for Matrix Fitness in the Benelux countries of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. She commented: "Together with Matrix Fitness Benelux and Matrix Pro Cycling, I will get the support I need to achieve my goals as a track cyclist."
"Not only do Matrix want to create more opportunities for women's cycling, but they also value highly sportsmanship and health."
She added: "I have previously worked with Matrix Fitness during my skating career, both in Team Activia and Lotto Jumbo. During our conversations, it soon became clear that my vision matches their team philosophy. Not only do they [Matrix] want to create more opportunities for women's cycling, but they also value highly sportsmanship and health. They have a clear story and my goal to participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was received with great enthusiasm. I’m very proud to be cycling under the flag of Matrix Pro Cycling from now on.’’
Commercial Director for Matrix Fitness Benelux, Arjan van Dijk, has followed Van Riessen over the last couple of years: “We had close contact with her because of our sponsorship with the women’s ice skating team. From day one of our cooperation, we have been a big fan of her explosiveness, strength and perseverance. We’re proud to be connected again and getting the chance to support her through her upcoming preparations for the Olympics."
Stefan Wyman, Manager of Matrix Pro Cycling, said, “We are delighted to have Laurine as part of the team. She was launched to fame during the Rio games, when millions of people worldwide, including myself, watched her escape a crash by ‘riding the wall’.
“She is as impressive off the bike as she is on it, and we hope to assist Laurine in creating the optimum pathway to Tokyo 2020. She will be our first track sprinter in our seven-year history."
Wyman will continue to manage the team through 2017, with a focus on rider development and aiding talented individuals in their quests to join the UCI ranks or target Olympic success.