Great Ride Series: Ellen van Dijk
When this Trek-Segafredo rider can't beat the weather, she embraces it
Early-season bike racing in the European lowlands isn’t a particularly inviting affair. The steady beat of rain, cold and wind mixed with cobblestone roads and impossibly steep hills is an understandable deterrent to most.
And yet, there are riders who work their entire lives to race in the notoriously difficult conditions. Journalists mythologise the bergs along the route. Millions of fans – drenched in rain, knee deep in muddy fields – line the course and cheer themselves hoarse. To an outsider, it’s madness.
But if the roads that make up the Dwars door Vlaanderen course are your home roads, the hype makes perfect sense. Trek-Segafredo’s Ellen van Dijk loves these familiar roads and she’s blessed with the optimal mix of attributes – strength, stamina, explosiveness – to succeed here. She’s spent years racing in more exotic and hospitable locations, but the annual run from Tielt to Waregem remains her favourite route.
‘Dwars door Vlaanderen is early in the season, it’s so close to home and the route really suits a rider like me,’ she says. ‘Weather makes things more interesting.’
Van Dijk has won the event for the last two years. ‘It’s a shorter race than I typically like – everybody goes full gas right from the start. I’m good with that.’
Next time a light drizzle has you considering skipping your favourite route, think of Ellen. And remember: whatever the weather, there’s no place like home.
BEST WAY TO RIDE
The Tour of Flanders Sportive (4 April 2020) is your best bet if you want to ride like the pros. Rent a bike at Trek Bicycle Kortrijk and take it for a spin near the starting line in Oudenaarde. Recover with a few locally brewed Trappist beers or try your luck at acquiring the notoriously elusive, world-famous Westvleteren.