Van Anrooij aready making waves in UCI Women’s WorldTour

At 21 years old, Shirin van Anrooij is one of the brightest talents in cycling: the recent winner of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio is a major asset for Trek-Segafredo and the Netherlands.

Shirin van Anrooij is a versatile, patient and thunderous talent, all at once. Only a few weeks ago, on her 21st birthday, she was crowned cyclo-cross Under 23 UCI World Champion, following the Junior title she had claimed a couple of years earlier. The young Dutch star had already displayed her talents among the Elite - 3rd overall in the 2022-2023 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, with three victories in Beekse Bergen (NED), Gavere (BEL) and Zonhoven (BEL) - but she wanted to take her time and build her opportunity to become UCI World Champion in every class of age.

After a brilliant winter, she quickly turned to the cycling spring, with the mastery of a veteran… And she just claimed her first professional win on the road, in one of the most prestigious events of the season: the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio, celebrated since 1974, with a winners record graced by champions such as Italians Maria Canins and Fabiana Luperini, Great Britain’s Nicole Cooke, Dutch star Marianne Vos… and now Van Anrooij, succeeding her Italian Trek-Segafredo partners Elisa Longo Borghini (winner again in 2021 after a first triumph in 2013) and Elisa Balsamo (2022).

“I actually just can’t believe it,” Van Anrooij immediately said. “It’s my first ever victory for the team. It has always been one of my favorite races but I never expected to stay away. I just expected them to come back and ‘Balsi’ [Balsamo] to win the sprint. And somehow I managed to win this race.”

Second race of the season, first victory

Van Anrooij’s showing at Trofeo Alfredo Binda strengthens the impression that she can do anything on her bike. This time, she attacked with 25km to go. The gap always remained minimal, with strong teams such as SD Worx and FDJ-Suez trying to close the gap and set their leaders up for victory. But nobody ever caught up to the Dutch youngster, who eventually won 23’’ ahead of her teammate Balsamo as the Italian National Champion outsprinted a reduced field to take 2nd ahead of her compatriot Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ-Suez).

“Balsamo was on my wheel and she told me ‘now is the time to try to attack,” Van Anrooij explained. “The gap stayed at 10 seconds for such a long time but everyone from the team just kept telling me that I needed to keep pushing and keep trying.”

“Talking to the team, I was just hoping to try to go for my first Elite win somewhere this season,” she added. It was only last week she returned to competition, in Danilith Nokere Koerse (27th). But the Trofeo Alfredo Binda came at the perfect moment to prove herself: “I wanted to prove I had the same form, at least, as last year so to win already in the second race of my season is just amazing. I couldn’t have imagined it.”

A young coming of age

At 21 years old, Van Anrooij is still the youngest rider of the Trek-Segafredo powerhouse but she’s becoming a well-established force. Already making waves as one of the most exciting talents in cyclo-cross, alongside her Dutch compatriots Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse, she joined the road team of Trek-Segafredo in August 2020 as a trainee following her strong performances in individual time trials (ITT) as a Junio: 2019 National and European Champion, she also took the silver medal in the UCI Road World Championships.

Since then, she has kept rising to the summits with many demonstrations of her extraordinary and versatile skills. In the second part of the 2022 road season, her abilities against the clock bolstered Trek-Segafredo towards UCI Women’s WorldTour victories in the Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden TTT and the opening team time trial of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.

It was a busy summer for the young Dutchwoman, who also impressed with her strong performances in the National Championships (winner of the U23 road race, 2nd in the U23 ITT), the European Championships (winner of both the road race and the ITT in the U23 category) and the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (14th overall, best young rider).

Her talent has been dazzling for years, growing in intensity every season. It was time for Van Anrooij to take her first major success on the road. Most likely the first of many.