From florist to professional cyclist

She grew up among the cut hydrangeas in Pijnacker and until recently her future also seemed to lie there, at the flower nursery of her father and her uncle. But nowadays Demi Vollering spends more time in the French Alps. “I love the mountains. I’m always curious; what would it look like if I was on the top?”

Saturday will start with the Dutch National Championships on the road, the second part of her successful year, in which she is looking forward to the Giro Rosa and, above all, the Olympic Games.

Vollering dreams away: ‘What would it look like if I were on top there?’

 

Life can sometimes take an unexpected turn. Until recently, the winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège made “very beautiful bouquets”, says her father Kees Vollering. “She is very creative, just like her mother. She also worked in a flower shop and took a flower arranging course.”

In addition to arranging, Vollering, now 24 years old, was busy with sports, but mainly with skating. Until her boyfriend persuaded her to go cycling. “It was actually only three years ago that she decided: I want to become a professional rider. Until 2019, she was still in doubt.”

And now Vollering is going to Tokyo as one of the four Dutch title candidates, on behalf of the best cycling country in the world. She could hardly believe it herself when it came out and thanked everyone through her social media channels.

She got a chance at the small Parkhotel Valkenburg at the beginning of 2019 and immediately, in her first hill classics, she stood out. She rode up with the best, came seventh in the Amstel Gold Race and even third in Liège.

The largest cycling team in the world, then called Boels-Dolmans, had seen enough.

 

‘Important that Chantal and Anna wanted me’

“I had already had several conversations with other teams,” Vollering recalls. “And I was in Switzerland at the time. So, it was difficult to talk in real life. They came to me from the Netherlands.”

Manager Erwin Janssen, team leader Danny Stam and future team leaders Anna van der Breggen and Chantal Blaak got into a car, especially to persuade Vollering to sign for the current SD Worx.

“That gave a very good feeling. It is important that she, Chantal and Anna, wanted me to like. It felt very good from the first conversation. It felt like a kind of family.”

 

Her own family looked on in amazement. “We had more in mind that she would become a rider for her sister Bodine. Because she used to win all fat tire races. Demi was also good, but she did not win everything. Her sister sometimes crossed the finish line laughing, four or five minutes before the number two crossed the finish line puking. Well, then you know she has talent.”

 

Character

“But Demi has more of my character. She is tough, she has to bite the bullet. You also need that, don’t you? In primary school, I must say, she once wrote down that she wanted to become a cyclist. So, she’s always been involved in something.”

 

Demi Vollering INSTAGRAM / @DEMIVOLLERING

 

Now she knows what she wants. She also says that from her training camp in Tignes, where she has been preparing for a busy summer in recent weeks, which will continue on Saturday with the Dutch National Championships.

Big rider

“I especially want to be a great rider,” says Vollering, who has won twice so far: in the Tour of Emilia in her debut year 2019 and this year in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“Being a great rider means, of course, that you have to win a lot, but also that you have to inspire people. It touches people with the sport. How? By telling my story. That you have to dream and believe in what you want. always really have to fight for it. That you should not go for less. If you have a dream to achieve something, that you have to work very hard for it.”

 

Although she has the character of a fighter, she exudes calm rather than spunk. She also does a lot of yoga. “You have nothing here. You are very secluded here. You are not cleaning, you are not going into town. Yoga is something I enjoy doing. I am always doing a lot of stretching. sitting on the bike, you can sometimes get so stiff. Yoga always makes you feel fresh. That always ensures that I recover a little faster.”

“That view,” she continues, looking back at the mountains. “I’m always curious: what does it look like when I’m on the top? Or what does it look like when I turn the corner there? The mountains stand for adventure, for freedom.”

The Dutch championship for women on the road, with Demi Vollering at the start, can be seen on Saturday from 12:00 on NOS.nl, the NOS app and NPO 1. The men drive on Sunday.

 

So, she is often away from the South Holland country, also because her boyfriend works and lives in Switzerland. But her bed is still at home. “She is here one week, the next week not,” says her father, who has to stop a sob when he thinks about her development.

 

Emotions

“That it also comes out that she can go to the Games. I think it is very beautiful. Yes, I have to be careful that I do not read all the stories, because then I will be full. You hope that your child ends up well, but that she achieves this …”

 

And who knows, her sister Bodine might also follow. “She is now studying, so cycling has less attention, but it can still come. That they will both be at the Games later, that would be great.”

 

Demi wine?

Grape bushes have recently been planted between the 71,000 square meters of cut hydrangeas from Kwekerij Vollering in Berkel en Rodenrijs. “I started that last year,” says Kees Vollering.

“I’m still experimenting. What works well and what doesn’t? We have both white and red grapes. Then you have to think of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. We expect to be able to bring the first wines to the market next year. If it turns out to be a real gem in terms of taste, I call it Demi.”

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