Glorious return to cyclocross for Van Empel
Fem van Empel has marked her return to the field with a victory. The 21-year-old...
Anna Henderson comes from skiing but has proven herself on the bike in recent years. She became British U23 time trial champion and with the British team she achieved the third place in the mixed team relay during the world championships in Yorkshire. The 22-year-old cannot wait to kick off the new season.
The new season is coming up. How are the preparations going?
"So far it has been going very well. The cooperation with my new coach Marieke van Wanroij is very nice and I am looking forward to the new season. It is a super exciting opportunity to be part of a completely new team. I am excited to build something new from the beginning together. I also look forward to working alongside the men’s team. I think we can learn a lot from each other."
How do you look back on last season?
"It was a tough season for everyone. During the first lockdown, I was actually able to train pretty well and I made the best use of my time to get even better. In August and September I rode some good races. Unfortunately, in early October, just before the start of the classics, I was tested positive for corona and my season was over. I haven’t been sick, but I was very disappointed it ended like that."
Before you started cycling you did alpine skiing at the highest level. Why did you ultimately choose cycling?
"Right, I was even national slalom champion as a junior. I broke my leg in 2015 and I started cycling during my recovery to get back in shape. I loved it so much that I wanted to give it a try on the velodrome. My mother then warned me not to break anything again. Then I entered a local road race and started training more fanatically. I found in cycling a passion and I liked it so much that I continued with it."
Did skiing help you to become a better rider?
"I think so. By doing sports at the highest level from a young age, you learn to deal with competition. When I first started cycling, I was able to just focus on cycling and getting better as an athlete, rather than having to deal with the pressure of competing and adjusting to a professional environment. My experience as an athlete has certainly accelerated my growth as a rider."
What is your most memorable moment so far?
"One of my highlights is that I won a medal with the British team in the team time trial at the world championship in Yorkshire. It was a home race for us, but we did not expect to finish on the podium. We rode really well and managed to win the bronze medal. To do that in front of a home crowd was really cool."
What is your favourite race?
"I have not ridden all the classics yet, but regarding watching them on TV, definitely the Tour of Flanders. That is my favourite. I consider myself a punchy classics rider. I have a lot of power on the flat, but also on the short climbs. I prefer to ride as fast as I can all the time. I also like the Tour of Norway. It is a very beautiful area and the course is very dynamic."
What do you do when you are not on the bike?
"I like to watch sports, especially hockey, football and sometimes Formula 1. Actually, I watch every sport that is broadcasted on TV. I also study Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Birmingham. If I wasn’t cycling myself, I would probably be coaching other athletes. I just really enjoy being involved in sports."
What do you expect from the upcoming season?
"As a team I hope we can really build a bond with each other so we can compete well together. I also want to develop myself further as a rider, both on and off the bike. I want to be ready for the big races and hopefully we will achieve some good results together. I just hope that the races will continue as usual, because after last year I am eagerly looking forward to racing again."