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'It’s not nice to be World Champion and get a pay cut': Van Vleuten hopes for Mitchelton-Scott survival

Joe Robinson
28 Apr 2020

World Champion is keeping fingers crossed for return to racing in autumn

Women's road race World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten has confirmed she has taken a 'substantial' pay cut to help the Mitchelton-Scott team survive.

The Dutchwoman confirmed that she had taken the wage reductions as a result of the team's primary sponsors' struggles with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

'It’s not nice to be World Champion and get a pay cut,' Van Vleuten told a roundtable of journalists on the video conferencing app Zoom.

'I will not say how much but it is substantial. I hope by taking the pay cut we will be able to keep the team alive and the team will continue which is the most important thing.'

The Australian team confirmed at the beginning of April that staff and riders from its men's and women's teams would have to take temporary pay cuts in order for the team to remain financially viable.

They joined the likes of Lotto-Soudal and Astana who took similar action

'We know that the current situation is not a good situation for the economics globally and it will have an impact on every sector, and for women's cycling and cycling in general, it's a really bad situation,' Van Vleuten added.

'I have the feeling that it's not positive but we have to wait and see as soon as we can race again, and we can show our sponsor again, we will pick up the positive path set in a good direction.'

One of the biggest uncertainties for the women's peloton and Van Vleuten is that surrounding the 2020 season.

So far, 14 of the 22 women's WorldTour races have been postponed or cancelled and the UCI has stated that no racing will return before 1st August, at the easliest.

However, while the UCI has released information on how it plans to resume the men's WorldTour calendar, prioritising the three Grand Tours and five Monuments, no details have been released on a return for women's racing.

The only races to be given confirmed new dates are the Tour de France (29th August to 20th September), National Championships (22nd & 23rd August) and World Championships (20th to 27th September).

Last week, the Cyclists' Alliance wrote an open letter to the UCI criticising its lack of information around the women's race calendar which forced the governing body to state a revised race schedule would be released on 15th May, something that pleased Van Vleuten. 

However, while the 37-year-old would have liked the UCI to have announced a women's race calendar at the same time as the men's, she appreciates that priority has to be given to the Tour de France.

'It would have been good if they announced dates for the women’s calendar at the same time as the men,' said Van Vleuten.

'I also understand that the Tour de France is the most important race in the calendar and that it is important for cycling, in general, that it goes ahead this year. And I realise the importance to work around the Tour and I actually keep my fingers crossed that the Tour can be held.'

Van Vleuten was given one opportunity to showcase the rainbow stipes of World Champion this year, her victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

She had spent the winter building towards her goals of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tokyo Olympics by training in Colombia and with the men's Mitchelton-Scott team.

Yet, with the enforced racing pause, the Dutchwoman has had to completely reassess her approach to training with the biggest adjustment being the lack of any goals.

'We are training without goals and I noticed in the first few weeks that training without a goal was really hard for me. I am a very goal-orientated athlete so training without a goal is something I enjoy not so much,' explained Van Vleuten.

'I have stripped away the intensity of my training, so if it's raining or I don’t feel like riding I will stay in bed. I am not pushing myself, I am saving my energy with the hope that I can race in September, October and November.'

Van Vleuten has taken the approach of riding as if it is her off-season, cross-training on the mountain bike and also taking to virtual training platforms like Zwift in order to keep in touch with her teammates and team staff.

It is all part of the hope that racing will continue in autumn where she will have the chance to defend her world title and also target some of the biggest one-day Classics in potentially unique circumstances.

'I keep my fingers crossed that they manage to rearrange the spring races in the autumn. Let’s have a Tour of Flanders and Ardennes races in the rain in November,' joked Van Vleuten.

'I also love the Giro Rosa and the Women’s Tour of Britain because these are both beautiful races and high on my wishlist.'