Who will dominate after Annemiek van Vleuten retires?

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Annemiek van Vleuten and her dominating presence within the elite ladies’s peloton will come to an finish on the conclusion of 2023.

After all, she may and may change her thoughts, however proper now, the mighty Van Vleuten suggests each intention of ending her profession on prime.

And that’s simply the place she’s been for practically a decade.

By 2016, she was a favourite in nearly each race she began. A horrific crash in Rio de Janeiro saved her out of the gold medal that 12 months, and he or she solely got here again stronger to start out a string of unrelenting dominance.

The Dutch powerhouse can win in nearly each state of affairs (save a mass bunch dash) and he or she’s gained nearly each main race.

An Olympic gold final 12 months in Tokyo checked that field, and her second rainbow jersey in 4 years in Wollongong pushed her into elite firm.

Additionally learn: Van Vleuten to deal with Giro, Tour in 2023

So what’s going to occur when she’s gone? Will one other dominating rider emerge, or will a deeper, better-funded ladies’s WorldTour produce extra parity and depth throughout the bunch?

Our VeloNews editors choose three riders who appear destined to attempt to fill the void left by Van Vleuten after her swansong season.

Sadhbh O’Shea: Elisa Longo Borghini

Elisa Longo Borghini celebrates victory on the 2nd Paris-Roubaix 2022. (Photograph by Tim de Waele/Getty Photographs)

Elisa Longo Borghini has been one of many prime riders of the final decade since her breakout season in 2012 when she gained a bronze medal on the street worlds aged simply 20. Nevertheless, she has actually hit her stride since becoming a member of the Trek-Segafredo workforce again in 2019.

Over the past 4 years, she has achieved the Italian TT and street race double twice and gained the GP de Plouay, Giro dell’Emilia, Paris-Roubaix Femmes, a number of phases of the Giro d’Italia Donne, the Ladies’s Tour, in addition to ending on the rostrum on the Giro and the Ceratizit Problem by La Vuelta.

Additionally learn: Longo Borghini blows up as she chases the yellow jersey

A few of these she had already achieved earlier than Trek, however it’s the consistency with which she has been in a position to stand up there throughout the entire season that has actually stepped up. Whereas this season was hampered by sickness and damage over the spring, she nonetheless nabbed herself the Roubaix cobble and a top-five end at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. She would later go on to assert fourth and sixth on the Giro d’Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift respectively.

Whereas the ladies’s peloton is way much less specialised than the lads’s, it’s nonetheless a reasonably spectacular turnaround to do nicely on such different terrain. The hunking nice cobbles of northern France may hardly be any totally different to the Planche des Belles Filles within the Vosges.

At 30, it looks like Longo Borghini has lots extra room to develop because the panorama of ladies’s biking continues to vary within the coming years. She could also be pressured to specialize a bit of bit extra because the power of the peloton deepens however she nonetheless has the expertise to carry out throughout some very totally different parcours and her aggressive fashion of racing is enjoyable to look at. She additionally offers good post-race interviews, and he or she could be a good ambassador for a sport that’s rising quickly.

Longo Borghini will not be going to be a like-for-like alternative for Van Vleuten, no person may actually exchange a rider that has dominated in the best way that she has, however the Italian has all the skills to place herself on the forefront of the game and the character to thrive in that place.

Andrew Hood: Lorena Wiebes

Lorena Wiebes won more than any other rider in 2022
Lorena Wiebes gained greater than some other rider in 2022 (Photograph: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Photographs)

Lorena Wiebes may by no means win the Tour de France Femmes, however she’s able to profitable every part else.

At simply 23, the Dutch rider is already a drive in each race she begins. And along with her transfer to SD Worx on a three-year deal, she’s going to possible be unstoppable.

In simply 5 seasons, she’s already racked up 59 victories. This season noticed her emerge as the favourite each time the race completed in any type of bunch kick, regardless of how diminished or huge it was.

Additionally learn: Attending to know the quickest lady within the peloton

With 22 victories in 2022 alone, she racked up a powerful haul, from the opening stage on the Tour de France Femmes, and one other in stage 5, and rode by way of the Journey London Classique by profitable all three phases and the general.

Her bonafides within the sprints are already with out query.

What’s prone to make her the peloton’s subsequent dominator can be her anticipated enchancment within the classics and one-day races.

She already boasts a bundle of wins in Northern Europe, however she’s struggled in a number of the more durable, extra combative programs, comparable to Paris-Roubaix Femmes or Tour de Flanders.

Her arrival to SD Worx, with the workforce’s depth and expertise, ought to see her turn into much more harmful. The workforce’s tactical acumen will solely rub off, and he or she ought to have the ability to take it straight to Van Vleuten this season, and past when she’s gone.

Wiebes will not be dangerous in opposition to the clock, and definitely adequate to defend in a one-week stage race like she did on the Simac Girls Tour.

Her Achilles heel is her climbing. Like many highly effective riders, it’s a quandary between reducing weight to climb higher on the danger of shedding energy. Proper now, it’s unlikely we’ll see her profitable the Giro d’Italia Donne or Tour any time quickly.

What’s virtually a assure is that she’s going to start out racking up world championships jerseys as nicely.

By 2024, when Van Vleuten is anticipated to be firmly retired, Wiebes would be the rider to beat.

Betsy Welch: Demi Vollering

Demi Vollering won the mountains classification at the Tour de France Femmes
Demi Vollering gained the mountains classification on the Tour de France Femmes and completed second total. (Photograph: Dario Belingheri/Getty Photographs)

After all, there have been numerous riders who needed to win the Tour de France Femmes final 12 months, however I’m unsure anybody needed it as a lot as Demi Vollering.

And nobody got here practically as shut.

Vollering, the SD Worx professional, was the one rider to problem Annemiek van Vleuten throughout the closing mountainous phases of the Tour. Through the penultimate stage, Vollering went along with her countrywoman on the Petit Ballon climb, and the next day, the 26-year-old held Van Vleuten to only 30 seconds on the Tremendous Planche des Belles Filles.

Vollering, who later stated that she was in “the type of my life” throughout the Tour, was understandably upset to have completed so shut — but so distant — to yellow. She was second total, 3:48 behind Van Vleuten.

Additionally learn: Vollering in ‘type of my life’ at Tour de France

Nonetheless, Vollering’s disappointment was additionally coupled with a realization: though “there was somebody who was stronger,” that was only one particular person.

Calling Vollering the subsequent Van Vleuten undermines her personal fashion, success, and power, however acknowledging that she could also be on the same trajectory goes with out saying.

Lengthy earlier than her spectacular mountaineering within the Tour, Vollering has proven that she is without doubt one of the finest riders within the peloton. She occurs to have additionally shared the identical podiums as Van Vleuten.

Final 12 months, Vollering beat AVV at Liège-Bastogne-Liège’; this 12 months she was third to Van Vleuten’s first. The 2 went 1-2 at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and 2-3 at Flèche Wallonne earlier this 12 months. To not point out Vollering ‘s victories at De Brabantse Pijl and the Itzulia Ladies’s race.

There’s little question that the general caliber of racing and the climbing masterclass placed on by Van Vleuten at this 12 months’s Tour de France will trigger seismic shifts in how ladies race not simply the Tour however different occasions, as nicely.

Luckily for Vollering, she already has an enormous head begin.

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