In a revealing interview with WielerFlits, Dutch cyclocross talent Shirin van Anrooij announced significant changes to her racing calendar. Last season, the 21-year-old phenom swept through the cyclocross season with three World Cup wins and the U23 World Championship title. However, for the upcoming winter season, she plans to adopt a different approach – one that finds her torn between road and cyclocross disciplines. It’s a balance all the more to the forefront after winning the Tour de l’Avenir Femmes and Trofeo Alfredo Binda this year.
“I’m going to take a few days off and then get back to cyclocross training. I’ll start right away in Beringen on October 8, followed by the World Cup in Waterloo,” Van Anrooij said. Despite her plans for an immediate start to the cyclocross season, she will later take a well-earned break and won’t resume until December.
The young rider, who races for Lidl-Trek during the road season and Trek Baloise Lions in cyclocross, wants to allocate more time for her road career. “For the first time, I’ll actually have a long off-season and a normal build-up to the road season,” she explained. Her primary aim is to put a greater focus on next year’s spring classics.
When probed about possibly shifting entirely to road racing, Van Anrooij was clear: “I don’t think I’ll ever do that. Last season, I made progress on the road, and I want to discover what more I can achieve there. This investment is necessary.”
Van Anrooij’s decision wasn’t easy, as she admits being deeply in love with cyclocross. “It’s too much fun, it brings me so much joy on the bike,” she stated. This emotional attachment was evident when she attempted to pare down her cyclocross races. “I ended up with 25 races on the list,” she laughed, highlighting her struggle to pick and choose.
The move also comes after her recent European Road Championships experience, where she found herself poorly positioned in the penultimate lap and couldn’t bridge the gap, despite having good form.
Her mentor and cyclocross team manager, Sven Nys, has mixed feelings about her altered focus but understands her decision. “He is quite happy that I will still compete in at least some cyclocross races for the team,” Van Anrooij said.
By committing to a leaner but more targeted cyclocross programme – comprising twelve or thirteen races – Van Anrooij hopes to find the right balance that serves her ambition on both fronts. Her trimmed-down schedule could be a boon for her road career during the Spring, but it also comes with sacrifices. The change may be a gamble, but it’s one that Shirin van Anrooij is willing to take as she navigates the complicated crossroads of a burgeoning cycling career. Whether the shift in focus pays off will be evident next season, as she aims to make her mark not just in the muddy cyclocross fields but also on the different roads of the spring classic races.