Maaike Boogaard: From Off-season to Iconic Classics
My Off-season: Rest & Preparation
My typical off-season usually revolves around enjoying vacations and occasionally attending some parties. But also, just being at home and spending time with friends and family is important. Since I'm away from home for most of the year, it's wonderful to spend some time at home.
As for preparing for the new season, there are several essential elements. I usually stay in Spain during my preparation, where I work on my fitness both on the bike and through strength training. Of course, getting enough rest alongside the training and having the right nutrition is crucial.
Looking Back on the Previous Season: Highs and Lows
Looking back on the previous season, I can say that I've experienced both low points and high points. Prolonged illness and a concussion during the Flèche Wallonne made the spring season go differently than planned, but I rebounded with a second-place finish in the time trial in Brittany. Unfortunately, a setback followed with a bout of stomach flu. Luckily, the second part of the season went better, and I achieved some great results.
During the previous season, I took on a new role in the races. I often rode in support of my team leader, but I also got the chance to pursue my own opportunities. This required a different mindset and took some getting used to. Additionally, I often assumed the role of a road captain, which was new to me but turned out to suit me well.
The Iconic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: My Participation in 2023 & Preparation for 2024
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is an iconic Belgian classic, and my participation in the 2023 edition was special because it was my first race for AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step. Although the race didn't go entirely as hoped, it was a unique experience. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad stands out as the first major classic of the year. It's often seen as a benchmark for the form of the riders and has a unique atmosphere with many spectators along the route.
When it comes to preparing for the spring classics and a race like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, I prefer physical training in Spain, supplemented with strength training and mental relaxation. Knowing the course and studying previous editions are also part of the preparation.
Working together with the team and fellow cyclists is of great importance during the spring classics. Ultimately, the results are achieved collectively, and everyone, including the staff, must commit 100% to achieving the best possible outcome.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a challenging race due to the early nervousness in the competition, even though the initial part of the course has few obstacles. Once at the Molenberg, the atmosphere with many supporters is truly fantastic, and the climb of the Muur van Geraardsbergen makes the race even more special. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is one of the few races on our calendar where we still ride over the famous Muur, which is, of course, a gem in road cycling.
My Advice for Young Female Cyclists
My advice to young female cyclists who dream of participating in such prestigious spring classics is to enjoy the experience. Sometimes, the pressure to perform can make us forget how special it is to be able to race in these beautiful events.