Annemiek van Vleuten blog: The cold-weather advantage and the importance of live TV
It was a dream Spring Classics season with two victories at Strade Bianche and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I was also consistent with three second places at Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, where I was fighting for the win. Even though it was a success, there were some things I learned along the way.
The lessons I took away from those second-place performances was to be a little bit more confident and believe in my capabilities. And so when I arrived at the start line of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, I felt that I had to take the initiative instead of waiting for an opportunity as I had done in the previous events.
It was such a big mental battle for me that day because I knew that it was my day to shine, that I was in good shape, and that I had worked so hard. Liège was also my last race during the Spring Classics.
I knew that I needed to put the hammer down right at the bottom of the Côte de la Redoute, but up until that point, I struggled because it was so, so, so cold. I can't even explain how it felt to race in such conditions. Usually, I'm pretty good with cold, and I'm pretty good with rain, but the combination of the two of them was challenging.
During the race, however, I remembered what I learned as a younger athlete from our national team coach Johan Lammerts. He would say that we had to open the curtains on the race day and look out the window, and if it was raining, we should be happy because half of the peloton would already be unmotivated.
It took us an hour to discuss and decide what to wear before the race. It's hard to figure out what the best clothing is for a race in such conditions, but I think my decision was spot on. I wore a rain jacket for the whole race until the point where I knew I wanted to attack on the La Redoute, and then I took it off just before the climb.
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