Demi Vollering: I can't wait to start the Tour de France Femmes

SD Worx’s yellow jersey hopeful on confidence, leadership and the Tour’s first time trial

Clock10:00, Saturday 22nd July 2023
Demi Vollering in action earlier this season

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Demi Vollering in action earlier this season

Demi Vollering (SD Worx) rarely seems daunted by a challenge. Since her breakthrough as a near equal to Anna van der Breggen in the 2019 Classics, Vollering has raced with the bit between her teeth, elevating her game every step along the way.

Ahead of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Vollering is certainly not going to start feeling the pressure now. Instead she is as eager as ever for the road ahead.

“I don't think there is much of a difference,” Vollering told the media about her confidence and expectations heading into the race this year compared to last season.

“I think it's more the  feeling of the media and the people, not on my team, that watch me more now than then last year. Maybe that's the only difference in my feeling.

“I can't wait to start, at this point you're not really really sure yet how the form is and you just need to wait till Sunday and then if you start to feel the legs in the race and you know more. Now, it's always a bit of guessing.”

When asked about her current form, Vollering was more evasive.

“You only feel this actually when you are in the race and you really go deep or something,” she said of her current shape. “So I find it hard to say. I mean, last week in my training, I was good but then still it can happen a lot these few days that you rest.”

When asked a question about her current level in terms of watts per kilogram, Vollering did not mince words: “I am not going to give away my numbers.”

What she did discuss was her improvements in the time trial as she prepares for the first race against the clock at the Tour de France Femmes this year. Vollering was second at the recent Dutch national time trial championship but was crucially 18 seconds ahead of her main rival at the Tour, Annemiek van Vleuten.

“Actually, I like to have time trial work,” Vollering said of her specific preparation before this year’s Tour. “Last season I almost did nothing because there were no time trials at all. And this year, we have more time trials with the Tour de Suisse and the Dutch championships. So it was really nice to do that and then see what you can improve for the next one. That's been really valuable and you can learn a lot out of it.”

What were those valuable lessons? For Vollering, who has always been a fairly capable time trialist, the improvements were built around simple tweeks to her position.

“In the Tour de Suisse we tried to get my head down more because I thought this was fast because it was the lowest,” she said.

“When we looked back at the footage, me and my coach Anna van der Breggen, we saw that when I put my head down there was a gap between the helmet and my neck and my shoulders which is not good.

“Then I started to see with the helmet how I needed to sit, exactly. Normally in TT training I ride with only a road helmet, but time trial helmets are bigger and much different. so it is important to train with the TT helmet because then you can really tuck in and test the position out.”

Vollering comes into the Tour with the out-and-out best team in the world backing her tilt at the yellow jersey. Yet with that wealth of talent comes the complications of managing each rider's ambitions. For SD Worx, the talented Vollering is just one of three top riders that all could lead their own team dedicated to their ambitions at this year’s Tour. How Vollering and the team management allows both Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes will be crucial to the harmony of the team.

And with Strade Bianche as evidence - when Kopecky and Vollering sprinted against each other for the win, neither ceding to the other - that marriage of talent is not always smooth. Nonetheless, Vollering was confident that the team would manage this different objective well and that, in the end, her GC challenge would be the team’s focal point.

“We are all really good with each other and you also know that if one day one rider is the strongest then we go for that person. And of course the GC is also important to keep in mind so make sometimes some rider need to pass on a stage win to make something happen on GC

“I think my teammates are professional enough to understand all those things in order to help me,  but there are also plenty of opportunities for them.”

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