Demi Vollering knows what work is

Her parents have a horticultural business in Pijnacker. Demi Vollering learned a few simple things: work is part of it and if you want to earn something, you roll up your sleeves. For a moment, that work ethic got in the way of the SD Worx rider. Because she wanted to cycle, but she also did not disappoint the companies for which she was a flower arranger. Three and a half years ago, the switch was cautiously switched. Then it went fast. Vollering already rode her first World Championship in 2019, became a fixed value at the front of the climbing races a year later. This year the victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and an election for the Olympic Games in Tokyo followed. Vollering is living her cycling dream to the fullest.

What are the pillars of that route from club matches to Tokyo? We list them.

 

“We didn’t really have pocket money. We had to work for our money.”

Demi Vollering

At home in Pijnacker

“My father is a gardener. It is always hard work in such a company. My father must always be ‘on’. There is no such thing as doing nothing for a day. He has to water the flowers and possibly take them out at night for a disturbance. That’s how we grew up, that you have to work a lot and hard. When I was young, I knew no better than to help my father on holidays and weekends. We didn’t really have pocket money. We had to work for our money. I’ve never been angry or disappointed about it. I always thought it was just good. That has been important in my youth and it helps in a top sport life.”

Sports is part of life

“I followed the MBO course ‘Flower Design’. After that I worked for two years in various flower shops and in my father’s garden when I had time to spare. When I finished school, I decided to go full in the sport for two years. But in the end, I was able to work at all my internship companies. When I met my boyfriend, he could see that I had a talent for cycling. But I also skated and maybe I liked that more then. I had a nice group that I trained with. I missed that in cycling. I didn’t really have a trainer either. Cycling was less in my system. In skating I had rhythm with training and competitions. I have always dreamed of cycling. As a small child I was always racing on an ordinary bicycle through the street with friends. I’ve always wanted to cycle races. Through my friend I came to believe in it. My parents didn’t really play sports in a club. In the past they were always working as gardeners. My mother was always very fanatic at the gym, in her opinion there was no possibility of cycling for women at the time. She also sometimes says ‘if I had been young in your time, I would have wanted to cycle too’. That was not so obvious at the time.”

Definitely going cycling

“I had a bad skating season in the winter of 2017-2018. I no longer achieved personal bests (PRs) and such. Normally you ride on the ice rinks until the end of March, now I started training on the bike earlier. For the first time I went to Spain on a training camp. I got sick there, so that didn’t do much. But still, from the time I started training at Swabo with Stefan van Klink that winter, things went very fast. That year I also went to the Ardennes for weekends to train. Look for the climbs to do the blocks there. I also regularly went to Switzerland because my boyfriend moved there. That year I actually went like a rocket. I didn’t train enough for that afterwards, but that was only nice because now there was a lot of room to grow. Before that I worked a lot and then I tried to cycle for an hour in the evening. I always wanted to do everything very well. Eventually when I stopped working and left skating, I started training more purposefully but also living. You have enough sleep, and you rest enough. That is of course also very important. You can also do better with your foodplan.”

 

“Everyone of the team is very important at this stage of my career, I’m still learning a lot.”

Demi Vollering

Incentive to keep going

“My boyfriend has been very important in that process to really go for it. It’s a good thing he gave me that kick. At Swabo I learned from Stefan van Klink in addition to training, the tactics of the race. He expressed what he expected from the race. That gave me a lot of confidence. Then I thought ‘oh yes we talked about that, and Stefan expects it to break there, then I have to sit in the front.’ That was very important. At Parkhotel, that tactical story was expanded by Bart Faes and Raymond Rol. Marieke van Wanrooij was a kind of mental coach for us there. You called them once a week. This is especially important at the start of your career. It was often pleasant chat about training and goals. That gave peace of mind that you could already talk about your expectations. If you had an injury, you could also call. So that you still kept in touch. That attention was also there at Parkhotel, which is very nice, especially for young riders.”

University cycling at Team SD Worx

“I am happy with my transfer to TEam SD Worx. What a year I’ve had here already. I won Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Can go to the Games. There will probably be more beautiful things to come, but actually my year has already passed. Everyone on the team is very important at this stage of my career, I am still learning a lot. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Anna van der Breggen lately. We have been on an altitude internship together. It was my first time, so it’s nice to have someone who is so experienced with me. She also gives tips on nutrition and all kinds of practical things. Sports director Danny Stam was there in almost all my races in the team manager’s car. You need some time, but you quickly get used to each other. In the beginning it was a bit of a search for confidence. But I quickly learned that I had to do what I was instructed to do, that it worked.”

Tokyo is not the endstation

“After two World Championships, I am now riding for TeamNL at the Olympic Games for the first time. At major tournaments it was nice to see that mutual trust with national coach Loes Gunnewijk is there. She also knows what I can do, which is nice. You learn something always and everywhere. The same will be true for the Olympics. That will be a great experience to experience that. It is a unique match. You don’t know how it would have gone if 2020 had been a normal season, how I could have shown myself and whether I would have driven in Tokyo. But I am another year stronger and a year wiser, that has not been to my disadvantage anyway. I hope we go home with a gold medal for the Netherlands. The profit must be for TeamNL. It doesn’t matter who it is.”

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