Shirin van Anrooij will make her eagerly anticipated return to cyclocross action next Saturday at Superprestige Boom. There, the always entertaining rivalry with Puck Pieterse and Fem van Empel will be renewed.
“It is difficult to estimate what our level will be compared to each other. I think it's clear that Puck has taken a giant step. When you see how she won those World Cups on the mountain bike… She has of course become much stronger," van Anrooij previews in conversation with Wielerflits. “But so has Fem anyway. You saw that on the road. I'm curious how I will do it. I have also taken a step myself, so I am curious to see how the three of us can compete against each other again."
Puck Pieterse about her friendship with Fem van Empel: "We can also have a nice chat with each other, not too much about the cross itself"
Whilst on the men's side, Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock are the box office three-way rivalry, Van Anrooij, Van Empel and Pieterse more than equal the entertainment. "We are all from 2002. We also get along well, we see each other quite often outside the races," says van Anrooij. "It felt quite bizarre to suddenly appear so prominently on screen with the three of us. We knew last year that we had taken a step, but we never expected that it would be so big and that we would suddenly dominate the cross season.”
“I have always competed against Puck, especially in the championships. Ever since we were little. That means we are always extra motivated to beat each other, I think. You just don't want all three to be inferior to each other. I think we only make each other stronger through that,” she concludes. "There is also pressure from the outside world and everyone is looking at it so hard. I try to focus on it a little less, but of course you do that automatically. They are also riders of your own age and from your own country. And of course the media participates in it. Ultimately, everyone just wants to win in sports."