Annemiek van Vleuten’s Shift of Gears at the Mallorca 312


, by Fabienne Lang

Photography courtesy of: Annemiek van Vleuten / Mallorca 312

Annemiek van Vleuten, renowned for her illustrious cycling career, found a new rhythm at the Mallorca 312 event, trading race records for dance moves. With an impressive peloton history behind her, Annemiek's transition to cycling's social side embodies a graceful shift in gears.

“I was dancing in my cycling shoes,” says Annemiek van Vleuten, smiling.

“It was fun how people got to see another side to me,” reflects the recently retired pro cyclist, “and it was great to see everyone partying together.”

Annemiek is recounting her experience at this year’s Mallorca 312, one of the most renowned Gran Fondos in Europe. During her cycling career, she charged towards finish lines with unparalleled speed, often claiming medals to add to her already overflowing trophy cabinet. With gold medals from the Tour de France Femmes and La Vuelta Femenina, four Giro d'Italia Donne titles, Olympic time trial triumphs from the Tokyo Games, and four World Championship jerseys, her list of achievements is nothing short of extraordinary.

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We can say with certitude that Annemiek has one of the most enviable palmarès in the peloton. So to envision her dancing at the end of the Mallorca 312 is a step away from her typical competitive form and a delightful picture of her embracing retirement wholeheartedly.

But make no mistake, the Mallorca 312 route is no leisurely jaunt.

The Mallorca 312

This amateur cycling event has a well-deserved reputation for its toughness. Participants have their pick from three options: the Mallorca 167, the Mallorca 225, and the Mallorca 312 – each corresponding to the distance in kilometers of its route.

“It’s quite a long and hard event that is challenging to finish and to go fast on,” Annemiek describes the 194-mile / 312km route, with over 16,400 feet / 5,000 meters of elevation gain. Cyclists often find themselves pedaling over 10 hours through this demanding terrain.

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The full 312 route winds through Mallorca's picturesque landscapes, taking cyclists on a journey through some of the island's most captivating roads. From the demanding ascent of Col de Femenia to the heart-racing descent of Puig Major, every turn offers both challenge and reward. And with traffic-free roads and vistas of both ocean and mountains that could steal your breath away, it's no wonder tens of thousands of cyclists flock to this event each year.

"It’s special to have the roads just for cyclists." Photography courtesy of: Annemiek van Vleuten / Mallorca 312

“It’s special to have the roads just for cyclists,” Annemiek explains, emphasizing the unique allure of the Mallorca 312, “and the atmosphere, especially the party in Artà” all work together to make this a standout event with a full gamut of offerings.

Annemiek savored every moment of the ride, truly leaning into the experience. “I started the cycle at 6:30am and ended just before 9pm, at the event cut-off time. I made the most of the time and we stopped at almost every station,” she chuckles.

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“We were not in a rush. I was enjoying the Mallorcan roads and beautiful views. I was able to meet and talk to lots of people. It’s amazing how fast the Mallorca 312 can pass when you’re stopping and talking to lots of people, and if you don’t have stress,” she recalls, relishing the local scenery and the camaraderie of fellow cyclists. We have a sneaky suspicion she didn’t get to do a lot of chatting or sightseeing during her Tour de France or Giro d’Italia races.

I started the cycle at 6:30am and ended just before 9pm, at the event cut-off time. I made the most of the time and we stopped at almost every station.

The Mallorca 312 held extra significance for Annemiek, as she cycled alongside elite companions: “Riding with Joseba Beloki and Pedro Horrillo was quite a special experience, as well as Mauricio Aguilla from Colombia who I know from my altitude camps. He also joined us, as well as my boyfriend. We had a super cool group,” she says grinning. “I had so much fun with them.”

Annemiek’s legacy

Even though Annemiek has hung up her professional racing jersey, her influence still ripples through the cycling world like a favorite tune on the radio. Being asked to wear the honorary bib number at this year’s Mallorca 312 is like a spotlight shining on her enduring legacy, making her only the second woman to receive this honor after Spanish cyclist Mavi García.

“It’s a big honor to be invited for the Mallorca 312 and it makes me proud to be on that list of cyclists who wore that bib number,” she beams.

If Annemiek’s Mallorca 312 cycle is anything to go by, she's nailing retirement. We're willing to wager our spokes and wheels most of us would love to glide into retirement as gracefully as she has.

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And we're eagerly awaiting more of those moments where she's dancing in her cycling shoes at the finish lines, weaving through her new bike journey with such elegance. It's truly a testament to how well she's embraced this new phase of her life.

Starting this new chapter, Annemiek's passion for cycling is as bright as ever. “After 16 years of professional cycling, I don’t want to push myself anymore,” she shares. “I want to enjoy the events from a different perspective. I stopped being fast but I won’t stop enjoying riding a bike.”

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