WINNER I N 2 0 0 5 A N D 20 0 6
Af ter finishing fourth in the inaugural Tour of Flanders Dutch rider Mirjam Melchers went on to win the next two editions .
In those years we were really struggling to get a bit more professionalism and that we could compete in those races really helped: we made a big step forward.
When you start cycling it’s always a bit of a search for your strong points and after my fourth place, I had the feeling I could do some good results in Flanders.
The second time was my toughest race ever. It was an early escape, 40km from the finish, I was one minute ahead of Christiane Soeder and then she came back to me in the last 3k. My legs were really bad, it was really bad weather and I had cramps everywhere, so I had to adjust the pace and my power.
I knew she would come back, so what could I do? I knew she was not the fastest but I wasn’t sure with the legs I had. However, I still managed to be able to think about the final and how I would play it. It had to be a very short sprint because if it was too long I would have a big problem. I tricked her, made a move and she went pretty early. I got in her wheel and then I was thinking, ‘Maybe this can turn out right.’
It’s one of those races. You have to give everything to win. It was not a lucky sprint, it was a win for hard work more than talent. Talent is handy too, but it was a win from character and those ones stay longer in your head. It was a really good feeling.
Being a professional cyclist is wonderful but afterwards you have those moments and memories you can share with others, like my children. I tell my children, with hard work you will get there no matter what, and I think that’s cycling, especially Flanders. It’s a brutal race and everybody’s legs are gone.”