It was never my dream to become a professional cyclist. But now that I am one, it is like living a dream. Cycling is one of the best sports that exists. Cycling is freedom. Everyday in cycling you have to push and beat yourself. On the bike, you really fight against the elements and at the same time you are one with them.
It was actually by pure chance that I became a professional cyclist. I was competing in long distance skating when it ended up that I was much better at cycling. I had turned up at races and within a year I was selected to race the Junior World Championships, where to my utter surprise, I won bronze medal in the time trial. I realised that moment how good I was. After that you automatically try to push your boundaries, you increase your targets and cycling started to take more and more of a priority.
For the first six years I really enjoyed competing as part of the Dutch teams ‘Vrienden van het Platteland’ and ‘Flexpoint,’ with my participation in the World Road Race Championships in Salzburg (2006) as the high point, where Marianne Vos took her first World title. During that time I combined cycling with my studies as well as a part time job.
In 2010 I got the offer to join the Swiss ‘Cervelo Test Team’ where I had the chance to concentrate on my sport fully. All of a sudden, I was part of the best team in the world. This gave me the opportunity to take a few steps ahead. The high points included victories in the queen stage of the Thüringen Rundfahrt and the World Cup team time trial victory in the Sweden. After a year riding under the flag of ‘Garmin-Cervelo’, the team was disbanded and I returned to the Netherlands in 2012 to join the new Rabobank women’s team. Another really successful team, much of which was due to team leader Marianne Vos, but I enjoyed a great year myself with an individual victory in the World Cup race in Vargarda, Sweden. Yet that very year I suffered one of my biggest disappointments due to a crash during the World Trade Team Time trial which resulted in a collarbone fracture and in missing the World Road Race Championships in Valkenberg. After such a good year I viewed selection for the world championships as an ultimate reward and I really wanted to help Marianne Vos win a second world title. The fact that the world championships were taking place at home made it even more painful. In 2014 I had the highest point in my career until now. In Ootmarsum, on the 28th of June, I was crowned Dutch Road Race Champion. The race turned into a real thriller when I went off chasing my teammate Lucinda Brand and only managed to catch and surpass her several metres before the finish line. Joy but especially disbelief overcame me on crossing the line. It is really special to be able to pull on the champion jersey in the red-white and blue every day for the entire year and to hop on the bike. Next to that it is so nice to be able to share such a wonderful success with my friends, family and other people around me who have always been there for me. After three wonderful and successful years with Rabobank-Liv team, I decided to take a different path in 2015. The foreign adventure called again and so I signed with the Swiss Bigla Pro Cycling Team. An even bigger adventure offered itself in 2016, when I got the chance to combine my favorite races, the Dutch and Belgium springclassics, with racing in the United States. I truly enjoyed my last year as a professional rider with the United Healthcare Pro Cycling team.
My palmares are, perhaps, not filled with great victories but every victory has a special story. During the years that I’ve competed, I have learned that victories are not the most important. The journey you undertake to that destination, the freedom the sport gives you and the physical effort that you put your body through are more important. Difficult, tough moments are followed by beautiful moments. It makes each and every pedal stroke unique.