Despite her success among the elite women’s category during the cyclocross World Cup this season, Shirin van Anrooij has chosen to compete in the under-23 women’s category at the upcoming UCI Cyclocross World Championships held on February 5 in Hoogerheide, Netherlands.
“There are still many years to come in which I can fight for a podium place in the elites while I want to close my period as a U23 in Hoogerheide. I choose to develop my career step by step and do not want to skip any steps,” said Van Anrooij, who won the junior world title in 2020 and finished second in the under-23 category at the Worlds last year behind compatriot Puck Pieterse.
“In 2020, in Dubendorf, I became the very first junior women’s world champion. In Hoogerheide, I will try again to give everything for that beautiful rainbow jersey. So I will stay U23 for another year and then make a plan for the coming years.”
Van Anrooij, who will celebrate her 21st birthday on the day of the women’s under-23 competition at the Worlds was ranked third in the UCI World Cup series this season. She won three of the 14 rounds – Beekse Bergen, Gavere and Zonhoven.
Van Anrooij is one of three 20-year-old Dutch riders dominating elite cyclocross racing this season alongside Fem van Empel, who won the World Cup series after winning seven rounds in Waterloo, Fayetteville, Tabor, Maasmechelen, Antwerpen, Dublin, and Benidorm, and Pieterse, who won in Overijse, Hulst, Val di Sole and Besançon.
Their compatriot and eight-time cyclocross World Champion, Marianne Vos, announced last week that she would not defend her cyclocross world title due to pelvic artery constriction, which has prevented her from competing at her best in cyclocross this season.
Van Empel and Pieterse will lead the elite women’s Dutch team at the Worlds on Saturday, February 4, joining a provisional team of eight that also includes former World Champions Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Lucinda Brand, along with Denise Betsema, Aniek van Alphen, Inge van der Heijden and Annemarie Worst.
Van Anrooij will compete in the under-23 race on Sunday, February 5, alongside Iris Offerein, Mirre Knaven, Larissa Hartog and Leonie Bentveld.
“Over the past few weeks, I have talked a lot with those around me, and I am happy that both my family and my team support this decision. I felt it was going to be a ‘now or never’ chance for an elite world title, but there was no wrong choice, and it only gives extra motivation for the coming years,” she said.
“Now that the decision has been made, my focus is completely on Sunday, February 5, 2023.”
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