Ilse Pluimers, the 21-year-old cyclist with AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step, recently took stock of her season, providing a candid assessment of her highs, lows, and overall development in an interview published by her team. At the crux of her reflections is the European Championships, a defining moment she characterised as her “best achievement.” For Pluimers, the victory was especially significant, considering she was wrestling with mental challenges during the Simac Ladies Tour leading up to the event.
According to Pluimers, the season was not solely about her individual milestones. She also lauded her top-10 finishes at the Dutch National Championships in both time trial and road racing. These accomplishments came despite the setback of a wrist injury that precluded her participation in Paris-Roubaix Femmes, her favoured event. The Giro Donne proved to be her hardest challenge, largely due to its physically demanding climbs, which she admits are not her forte. However, she believes the Giro experience has made her stronger and has added fuel to her motivation for future races.
On the mental aspect, Pluimers detailed the maturation she underwent over the season, specifically mentioning her newfound ability to better handle doubts and stress. She expressed gratitude for the supportive role she played for teammate Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio in the Tour of Scandinavia, describing it as “immensely rewarding.” Pluimers views her season as transformative in numerous areas, including but not limited to, athletic performance, mental resilience, and team-based communication.
Teamwork and collaboration are essential elements in Pluimers’ view of the sport. She expressed great pride in the close-knit nature of her team and her role in fostering that environment. Throughout much of the season, Pluimers worked in support of her team—a role she thoroughly enjoyed. However, she did hint at a shifting dynamic, stating that she has been “gradually given more freedom to attack and create” as the season progressed.
For the upcoming season, Pluimers has set her sights on further growth. She aims to continue excelling in her role as a supporting rider but also seeks opportunities to highlight her own abilities. While she has enjoyed the role of a lead-out rider, she articulated a strong desire to keep evolving in all facets of her professional career, including training, communication, and teamwork.
In summary, Pluimers offers an insightful look into the life of a young, rising talent in the world of professional cycling. As she gears up for another season, she strikes a harmonious balance between individual ambition and collective responsibility. It’s this amalgamation of personal skill set and team ethos that makes her future in the sport look exceedingly promising.