Silke Smulders (20) set a solid performance at the Simac Ladies Tour last week and that way, she seems ready for the European Championships in Trento next week. The year began with a setback for the Dutch rider because she needed to undergo knee surgery, but the second part of 2021 is looking much brighter. After she finished fifth in the best young rider classification at the Giro, shortly after her comeback, she now was the third best youngster at the Simac Ladies Tour with her twelfth place overall in this WorldTour race. In the last two stages she got thirteenth and fifteenth.
Therefore Silke Smulders looks back on the Simac Ladies Tour with satisfaction: “The first days the course suited me less, but the stage through Dutch Limburg on Saturday was my cup of tea. I really wanted to perform well that day. The stage was exhausting, also because of the bad weather. It took a long while before the battle began in the peloton, until we got to kilometre ninety. Then it didn’t stop till the finish. I managed to follow and I ended up finishing thirteenth. On GC I climbed up to the twelfth spot and I wanted to hang on to that place the last day. On Sunday the weather was bad as well. I rode a very active finale and with fifteen kilometres to go I bridged to the front group together with two others. Until three kilometres to go, I was riding at the head of the race, but we got caught after all. It feels good to realize that I was in the running for a stage win at the end of a WorldTour stage race. And a fifteenth place between all those riders was definitely not bad either.”
For Silke Smulders this was the first race since the Giro. After she got back from Italy she took a well-deserved period of rest and then she started building up slowly towards the rest of the season. “I was exhausted after the Giro”, remembers Smulders. “I needed a week to recover. Then I went to France for three weeks with my parents. It was a holiday that I combined with training. I cycled a lot in the mountains and climbed among other Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez. I could take a fresh start in the Simac Ladies Tour. I notice that the Giro has given my confidence a boost. Because I survived those ten days well, I know that my body can sufficiently recover during a stage race.”
Next week, on Friday, Silke Smulders will ride the U23 road race at the European Championships in Trento, Italy. Last year Smulders finished eighth at the Europeans.
“I’m in a very good shape at the moment and I hope to keep that form until the Championship so I can get a good result”, says Smulders. “I am not thinking about a specific place. I just want to be able to say after the race that I got the maximum out of it. The race is less than ninety kilometres long. It’s possible that we get a fast start and that the pace never drops. That’s the scenario I prefer. I would love it to be an elimination race. But with our Dutch team we have cards to play in different scenarios.”