The next generation is assured for the Netherlands, who have dominated women’s cycling for several years now. At a time when Anna Van der Breggen and Anemiek Van Vleuten, their emblematic leaders who left their mark on the history of their sport, have turned the page, the future is already smiling on the new generation.
Shirin Van Anrooij, aged 21, inaugurates the list of winners of the Tour de l’Avenir for women after flying high in the final stage, which opened up considerable gaps over the Col des Saisies and the majestic yet interminable Cormet de Roselend.
The little Italian Gaia Realini, who had given a glimpse of her pure climbing skills by winning the Megeve stage, was unable to assert herself as queen of the mountains. She was clearly dominated by Shirin Van Anrooij. She was alone in the lead at Cormet de Roselend and also won the Alden polka-dot jersey for best climber.
It was on the main climb with around thirty kilometres to go that Germany’s Antonia Niedermaier, who had been leading since day one, took the lead for good, without crashing out. The podium eluded the young German (4th ), but at 20 years of age she left with a great week in yellow and the white jersey of the young De Dietrichs to finish in.
Shirin Van Anrooij, who came unstuck at the summit, won the Sainte-Foy Tarentaise stage by a wide margin, relegating Britain’s Anna Shackley, 2nd in both the stage and the final overall classification, to just over two minutes behind her. And if the first two were worried, it was only because of a crash they both suffered on the downhill bends of the Cormet de Roselend, from which they recovered without any major damage.
The Dutch school
The triumph of Shirin Van Anrooij, already a professional with the Lidl-Trek team, confirms that she shines on all terrains, and if the bulk of her record of achievements has so far been built up in cyclo-cross (U23 world champion, multiple medallist since the juniors), she was also wearing the European road champion’s jersey at this Tour de l’Avenir. In short, an all-round champion who is preparing to head to the USA to start her cyclo-cross season. The winter speciality remains the staple of the Dutch school, and it’s a success all round: while Shirin Van Anrooij finally wears the CIC yellow jersey, Fem Van Empel, world champion in the speciality with the Elites, takes the green Biofioul jersey in the points classification. And the Netherlands logically won the team classification.
On the French side, the revelation came from the mixed regional team of Auvergne – Rhone Alpes, which included Marion Bunel from Normandy, who showed real qualities in the mountains, earning her a promising 8th place in the final classification, from which Cedrine Kerbaol of France retired.
In the very short term, the women’s Tour de l’Avenir is clearly destined, like its men’s version, to become the breeding ground for the women’s Tour de France.