"I found it steeper than expected!" - Demi Vollering left wary after recon of Alpe d'Huez ahead of Tour de France Femmes

Later this summer, the Maillot Jaune of the 2024 Tour de France Femmes is likely to be decided on the slopes of the mythical Alpe d'Huez. Demi Vollering will be looking to defend the title she won last year, and as such, has already begun her reconnaissance.

The 27-year-old Dutchwoman, who for now at least, remains the Team SD Worx - Protime leader, is currently camping at the foot of arguably cycling's most storied and iconic climb and reflected in conversation with NOS about her first impressions of Alpe d'Huez. "I found it steeper than expected!" she explains warily. "We got acquainted for a while. You shouldn't overestimate yourself, because then you run into yourself."

Vollering her partner and her dog, are travelling the route of the 2024 Tour de France Femmes, living out the back of their van. "There is something about the tension of whether or not you have a hot shower at the campsite. I like the adventure," she explains of the rather rustic set up to her preparations for the upcoming Grand Tour. "Washing in a nice, clean stream is also fine. It gives a lot of energy. Nothing to worry about. Back to basics. Pure life."

Aside from the feeling of getting back to nature, there remains however, the important business of getting herself in the best possible shape ahead of the defence of her Maillot Jaune. "Stage five, six, seven and eight have been scouted. Very different from anything we have ever experienced. Long stages, lots of altimeters. A tough finish to the Tour," she analyses. "We start in Rotterdam, close to where I was born. That is very special."

Regarding her own future however, Vollering isn't quite so open although she does admit it's nice to see the rumours spreading. "Nice to see so much speculation about it. It shows how much attention women's cycling gets. For me it's important that the races are seen, that's where we achieve the most growth," she concludes. "I'm trying to focus on the goals this season. My team also wants to win those races with me, so that's what matters. The sporting thing."

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