Glorious return to cyclocross for Van Empel
Fem van Empel has marked her return to the field with a victory. The 21-year-old...
Aafke Soet took the win at the U23 European time trial championship in 2018 and won the silver medal in the road race two days later. Coming from skating, she could not wish for a better team than Team Jumbo-Visma. The young rider from Heerenveen is eagerly looking forward to the new season.
Why did you make the switch to Team Jumbo-Visma?
"I have skated for quite some time and I that is how I got to know Team Jumbo-Visma. The team is doing very well, you also saw that with the men’s team in the past years. There is so much knowledge and they work in a very professional way. That appealed to me. That is also why this team feels to me as the right environment to develop myself further."
How are the preparations for the new season going?
"Very well. I have a new trainer from the team, and it is a really good fit. I have nice training schedules and they are working out well so far. I have been looking forward to the first training camp, also to be able to train together with my new teammates who I have not seen as much because of the corona measures. In any case, I feel very strong and I assume that it will be a great season."
You used to skate in the past, both long track and short track, why did you choose cycling?
"At first I did short track as part of Jong Oranje. Later I opted for the long track. I always cycled next to it and I slowly started to get better at it. When I was a junior this was still easy to combine, but when I got into the U23 category I had to make a choice. Have to compete year-round became too much. At that time, I liked cycling more, so I chose that. At the moment I do not skate because the rink is closed. Normally I still try to train on the ice once a week."
Has skating helped you to become a better cyclist?
"Yes, absolutely. Especially with the time trials. As a junior, I noticed in cycling that I trained quite a lot for skating compared to other girls. As a result, my body was already very well developed, and my muscles were quite strong. I think I have benefited greatly from that."
What is your first memory of cycling?
"That I did not like it at all. It was just something I did to train in the summer. In the beginning, I found it quite boring. When I was fourteen, I suddenly thought about going back to training at the cycling club. Then I also started doing some competitions and that went very well. That is when I started to get more fun out of it."
What is your most memorable moment so far?
"The European Championships U23 in 2018. I won the time trial and came second in the road race. That was a fairly successful weekend for me. I did go there with the main goal of finishing on the podium, but I never expected it to work out. That was very special."
What do you do when you are not cycling?
"I enjoy drawing. I also paint, especially with water colours. For myself I often make something with nature. But I also make portraits or draw of pets for other people. That is how I keep myself busy."
Which athlete do you see as an example?
"Tom Dumoulin. He is good at difficult uphill races, but also has a lot of power to ride good time trials. In terms of type of rider, I want to grow in that field even more. I would like to be there in a few years’ time."
What is your life motto?
"Before last season I had a tough time due to overreaching. My mother told me then that it is much more important how you are as a person and how others look back on you than what you do around it. That has stayed with me. What you give, is what you get. I always try to hold on to that."
Where do you prefer to ride your bike?
"I think the Basque Country is very beautiful. However, I also have a chalet in Limburg. I like to go cycling in its vicinity. The Alps in Austria are beautiful as well. Actually, I enjoy wherever it goes up a bit."
What do you expect from the upcoming season?
"I expect to have a very good season, where I can mean a lot for the team. It would be nice if I can ride in service of others and when possible go for my own chances sometimes. I expect that we can create a very beautiful and safe environment where everyone feels comfortable and where we can bring out the best in each other."