Analysis of the Netherlands men’s and women’s teams for the 2022 Road World Championships
In front of 2022 UCI Road World Championships, Cyclingnews takes a look at the key teams in elite road racing. Here we put the Netherlands under the microscope.
The Dutch have enjoyed unprecedented success in recent years, winning six rainbow jerseys over the past decade as well as five silver medals. The race came after a five-year mini-drought that saw Marianne Vos pick up five second places.
Since then, Vos has won twice with the double of Anna van der Breggen, as well as the titles of Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Annemiek van Vleuten. Overall, the Netherlands is by far the most successful country in women’s road running history, with 13 gold and 17 silver.
It’s a different story for the men, however, without a rainbow jersey since Joop Zoetemelk’s 1985 title. Prior to that, names such as Jan Raas, Hennie Kuiper and Jan Janssen contributed to the seven wins the men.
Since Zoetemelk’s triumph there have been just three podium finishes, and only one in the past two decades – Dylan van Baarle’s silver last year.
- Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar)
- Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma)
- Demi Vollering (SD Worx)
- Floortje Mackaij (DSM team)
- Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo)
- Riejanne Markus (Jumbo Visma)
- Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo)
- Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
- Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers)
- Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)
- Daan Hoole (Trek-Segafredo)
- Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma)
- Wout Poels (Bahrain victorious)
- Jan Maas (BikeExchange-Jayco)
- Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert)
On a stacked team, world champion 2019 Annemiek van Vleuten is the obvious reference. The 39-year-old enjoyed another dominant season, winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Liège-Bastogne-Liège before completing the treble and winning the Giro d’Italia Donne, Tour de France Women and Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.
She’s not the name most likely to win in a bunch sprint, but if she manages to break away on Mount Pleasant, the rest of the peloton probably won’t see her again until the finish.
Marianne Vos is a three-time road racing world champion but hasn’t won the title for nine years after taking that famous run of second places in recent years. At 35, another veteran, she has eight victories to her credit in 2022, including two stages each at the Giro and the Tour.
She is arguably the best sprinter in the peloton – along with fellow Dutchman Lorena Wiebes, who does not race – and will be tough to beat if she makes it to the finish in the lead group.
Demi Vollering is the third leadership option for women, the 25-year-old is set to lead Dutch cycling in the coming years as the mega-stars retire. She racked up podiums throughout the season and could have more wins – including in Liège and on the Tour – if Van Vleuten hadn’t been there to pick them up.
As things stand, De Brabantse Pijl and Itzulia Women are her big wins of the season, and she has shown she has more than enough to compete for glory in Wollongong.
World and Dutch time trial champion Ellen van Dijk will also be a key rider, although her chances of winning are more limited by the difficult and hilly course. Expect to see her pushing a strong pace at the front of the pack at some point during the 164km race. The same goes for Floortje Mackaij and Riejanne Markus, other runners who could be among the leaders of a less strong nation.
While women – again – have a variety of options available to them, men have a clearer hierarchy with Mathieu van der Poel firmly at the top. The 27-year-old has big wins to his name this season at Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders and the opening Giro d’Italia, although at the Tour de France his form was way off for unknown reasons. .
He is undefeated in three out of four races since his return at the end of August, winning two small races in Belgium as well as the GP of Wallonia. It remains to be seen whether he is in perfect form as a World Cup winner.
Beyond Van der Poel, the team can count on several big names but none who would be placed in the absolute top of the favorites. Dylan van Baarle in the reigning silver medalist and Paris-Roubaix champion, although on a hilly course with the steep final climb of Monunt Pleasant just 9km from the line, it’s hard to imagine him up front unless he hadn’t already slipped into a strong breakaway.
The tastes of Bauke Mollema and Wout Poels are also big names who have proven themselves in the hilly Classics in the past, with victories at the Monuments of Il Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège to their credit.
However, at 34 and 35 and at the end of a season where they haven’t been on top form, it would be a surprise to see them in any type of challenge.
On the women’s side, the strength in depth is evident, with three potential race winners in the squad giving them more options than any other nation in the race.
Van Vleuten and Vos are among the two big favorites in the peloton and, while Vollering has been less talked about, the Dutch team have several options to run from and can use different strategies throughout.
With so many top riders on the team, leaders from other nations will likely have to work together to counter the collective strength of the Netherlands, a difficult task on a hilly circuit where the situation can change from mile to mile.
Unlike the women, the men can focus on a leadership option, with Van der Poel being the undisputed leader and the team’s only rider among the big favorites in the general classification. This means the team can head to the start with a clear strategy for the 267km ahead, with riders like Mollema, Poels, Van Baarle and Van der Hoorn all likely to be set in their tactical roles from the start. .
However, that doesn’t mean his support team members won’t be able to head into the breakaway or launch attacks later, if they can. In a race where most teams also have a singular leadership option, it will be no different for the Dutch men.
The only real weakness of the Dutch is that they could be too strong, if at all possible. With three possible winners in the team, other nations will be looking to them to do the work for most of the race, and for Van Vleuten, Vos, Vollering and Van Dijk to lead the way in further attacks, if they lack it. moves.
We’ve already seen that the team doesn’t always work in perfect harmony when others look to it, the road races at last summer’s Olympics being the prime example, and the world championships to a lesser extent. measure. This should no longer be the case next week, with women having hopefully learned the lessons of the past. Beyond the potential for disharmony, however, there seem to be very few weaknesses in the team.
In men, it all depends on Van der Poel and his form. The team leader hasn’t tested himself against a WorldTour-level peloton since the Tour de France, where he was mysteriously out of color.
Since then, the one-day 1.Pro race at the GP de Wallonie has been the biggest test he has endured, handily winning the final sprint ahead of fellow Worlds favorite Biniam Girmay (Eritrea). He also had two more victories to his name last week, although they were both won at national level races in Belgium.
If he’s in top form, all is well, but if possible doubts about his level on the Tour arise again in what will be his longest race since April, things could quickly degenerate.
As always, there are more doubts about the Dutchman’s chances of success than their female counterparts. At the end of the week, it would certainly be more of a shock if the men, rather than the women, went home with a rainbow jersey – rather than the other way around.
Imagining a scenario where one of Van Vleuten, Vos or Vollering doesn’t go home with another rainbow jersey is harder than the alternative, and honestly it would be another surprise if they were to s do without.
With the squad the women have at their disposal, anything less than victory should be a disappointment. On the men’s side, you feel another medal – regardless of color – would be a successful day against Van Aert, Alaphilippe and Pogačar.