Swinkels convinced of Jumbo-Visma Women's qualities ahead of Tour of Flanders
Coming Sunday, the Tour of Flanders is on the programme for Team Jumbo-Visma Women. The race of nearly 160 kilometres is undoubtedly one of the biggest races of the spring. All the more reason to look ahead with Karlijn Swinkels. "We have the qualities to produce a beautiful outcome."
The 20th edition of the women's race will start and finish in Oudenaarde. As in the men's race, the climbs of the Koppenberg, the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg will be crucial. In 2013, Marianne Vos won the race; in 2017, her teammate Coryn Labecki crossed the line first.
"It's the most beautiful and biggest classic of the spring", Swinkels says of the Belgian race. "It has the status of a monument, and it shows. In both the men's and women's races, it's total madness on the roadside. You get a lot of energy from the crowds. It's obvious that cycling lives here."
Swinkels also took part in last year's race. She remembers it well. "The race ignited on the Koppenberg. I suspect it won't be much different this year. If we can get through this stage with some of the girls, we can do well in the final. With Marianne, Anna Henderson and myself, we hope to be in contention for the podium deep into the final", the Dutch rider says of the team's ambitions.
"It will be a very open but also a gruelling race", Swinkels adds. "Positioning is crucial in this race. The whole peloton knows that, so no one will be hiding. We must stay alert, use our instincts, and go deep on Sunday. Hopefully, we will be in front of some of the girls well into the final so we can use the strength of our team. We will go for the highest possible."
"I can see that I have made progress compared to previous years"
Swinkels has gradually improved over the past few years, and the 24-year-old rider is happy with her success this season. "I am pleased with how my spring has gone so far. I can see that I have made progress compared to previous years. Things are getting better each time, and I am moving up a few places each time. The big goal for this spring is to finish on the podium. Of course, I go into every race wanting to win. It's in my nature. That is why I am at the start. But a podium finish is a more realistic goal. It would be very nice if I could achieve that."
Swinkels concludes with a final look ahead to next weekend's race. "We want to be proactive and get involved in the fight for victory. If the circumstances on the course require it, we shouldn't be afraid to go all in, and I am confident that we can achieve an excellent result as a team."
Teuntje Beekhuis, Eva van Agt, and Coryn Labecki will join Swinkels, Vos, and Henderson in Oudenaarde on Sunday.