She is the youngster of the Dutch quartet. Marianne Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen know with four, three and two Olympic participations respectively how big and special the event is. The atmosphere of the Olympic village, the amalgamation of athletes from all over the world and the collection of no fewer than 42 sports will pass by Demi Vollering. At an hour and a half from Tokyo, the four Dutch cyclists stay in a large hotel with all cyclists and the five rings mainly resemble the five coloured stripes of the World Championships cycling.
On behalf of Team SD Worx, Anna van der Breggen and Demi Vollering have been delegated to Tokyo for the Dutch team. A total of six riders of the team will compete in the road race. Namely also: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Anna Shackley, Karol-Ann Canuel and Christine Majerus.
“I’ve never been to the Olympics before, so I wouldn’t know what the feeling should be like. I don’t miss the atmosphere, because I don’t know what I should be missing,” says Vollering, 24-year-old.
She has already explored the course well. Like the other women in the Dutch team, Vollering had estimated it more difficult beforehand. “It is true that it is not very heavy. It will be quite a job for us to get off certain other riders. We have to be careful not to take fast riders like Lizzie Deignan, Coryn Rivera and Lotte Kopecky to the finish. They can also survive this course well.”
“In the entire race, not a metre is flat, but it is never that you ride really long uphill. With the heat and high humidity, it will certainly be a difficult course. On the other hand, it offers the climbers few opportunities to shake off the competition. There are many girls who can get along here. Especially the final on the track. That almost looks like a technical criterium. Precisely because so many riders can handle this course, it can be a very interesting and surprising race.”
And so the Dutch quartet encounters the problem that the foursome actually have to make the race hard, but that on the other hand they have four top favourites who can win all four on this course. “And if you’re the one who has to make it hard, you won’t survive to the end,” Vollering rightly concludes.
Then the four orange shirts, who the outside world actually expects to pick up the gold in Tokyo for a while, encounter a dilemma. “How should we deal with this?” Vollering repeats the question. “I think we have to play our cards especially at the end. Marianne and I can bet on our sprint. Anna and Annemiek, on the other hand, should certainly not wait. They are more likely to try to get away. From that moment on we can start playing our tactical game. We just have to try all the scenarios.”
For Vollering it is a big advantage that she has won Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Course in a sprint from a small group in recent months. “Indeed. Precisely because these are also competitions that are somewhat comparable to this Olympic title fight in terms of weight. Perhaps at the end, there will be opportunities to escape with a group or that it will be a sprint of a considerably thinned out first peloton. Normally I have an image of a match. I don’t have that here yet. It will be a great race for the public, but for the Netherlands it will not be as easy as everyone thinks to go home with a medal.”
Photo credits: Getty Sport