After her UCI World titles in the individual time trial (ITT) and road race last week, it’s hard to find anything missing in Anna van der Breggen’s stellar winning record. Major championships, Classics and stage races: at only 30 years old, the Dutch star has claimed just about everything she could in the world of road cycling. She’s set to retire in 2021 but her thirst for success hasn’t been extinguished by her many victories, as her historic double last week in Imola (Italy) demonstrated.
Victorious in La Flèche Wallonne Féminine just days after her double at the UCI Road World Championships, Anna van der Breggen will again be aiming to do the rainbow jersey proud at Liège-Bastogne-Liège this Sunday.
Olympics, Worlds, Euros and Nationals: nobody does it like Anna
Van der Breggen’s two triumphs at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola brought her tally up to nine individual medals - with two more in the team time trial (TTT) - in eight participations at the UCI Road World Championships. At the age of 22, she was already 5th in the road race in 2012, in a perfect position to witness her compatriot Marianne Vos triumph on Dutch soil, in Valkenburg.
Since then she’s accumulated UCI Road World Championships medals of her own, including three golds: at the road race in 2018 in Innsbruck (Austria), and both the road race and the individual time trial last week. With her two latest successes, she became only the second rider to dominate both events the same year, after France’s Jeannie Longo in 1995. Nine women have climbed onto the podium of the road race and the ITT in the same edition of the Worlds but Anna van der Breggen is the only one to have achieved this in consecutive years: she’s graced every Elite Women’s podium since 2018. For the record, she was also on all three podiums (ITT, TTT and road race) in 2015.
The Olympic Games also saw her make the most of her versatile talents to shine in Rio (2016): a gold medal in the road race and bronze in the time trial. Van der Breggen wasn’t the first rider to leave the Games with an Olympic title and another medal. Jeannie Longo claimed gold and silver in Atlanta (1996), and the Dutch rider Leontien van Moorsel won two titles in Sydney (2000).
Once you add the European and the Dutch National Championships to the list, Van der Breggen is in her own galaxy, also thanks to some recent conquests. She had already won the ITT at her Nationals in 2015, and the road race at the Europeans in 2016. In 2020, for the first time she won the Dutch road race and the European ITT, en route to her first victory in the Worlds ITT.
Since the creation of the UCI Women’s WorldTour in 2016, she has clocked up the most wins (15) in this leading series for women’s professional road racing, plus the overall series title in 2017.
One-day races: the Queen of the Ardennes reigns over an extended realm
Anna van der Breggen has left her mark on many races but if obliged to pick the place where she’s been the most dominant, it would have to be the Mur de Huy. On the mighty slopes of la Flèche Wallonne Féminine, the Dutch all-rounder has made the most of her punch to claim six consecutive successes, from 2015 until this Wednesday, in the 2020 edition. In Huy, Van der Breggen has a better record than the Kings of the Ardennes, the local hero Eddy Merckx and the Spanish legend Alejandro Valverde.
She’s also won Liège-Bastogne-Liège twice (2017, 2018) and she is a hot favourite to chase a third success this Sunday. In 2017, she made it a whole week of triumphs when she also won the Amstel Gold Race. A year later, she would claim another triple crown with a solo victory at the Tour des Flandres to go along with her successes in the Ardennes.
That year, she also dominated the Strade Bianche and the Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria. Her extraordinary career also saw her win on the Parisian Champs-Élysées with La Course by le Tour de France (2015), the GP de Plouay - Lorient Agglomération Trophée WNT and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Among others.
Stage races and season awards: the most consistent champion
Van der Breggen doesn’t only win on all types of one-day races, she’s also a fierce stage race competitor. A week before her Imola triumphs, she was already claiming success in Italy, winning the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile for the third time in her career (after 2015 and 2017). That’s as many as Marianne Vos and Switzerland’s Nicole Brändli. Only Fabiana Luperini, with five victories, has a better winning record at the Giro Rosa. But if you add her third places in both 2014 and 2016, and second in 2019, Van der Breggen shares the record for most podiums (six) with a handful of rivals.
Van der Breggen also won the Amgen Tour of California Women's Race empowered with SRAM on two occasions (out of five editions competed). Her many successes made her a regular in the leading positions of the UCI rankings. She was first at the end of the 2015 season and she’s been inside the top 5 every season since 2013, except for 2014 (7th). She won the Keetie van Oosten-Hage Trofee award as Dutch Cyclist of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2018. With all the successes she’s accumulated in the past weeks, 2020 is set to be another landmark season for the Dutch star.