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Amy Pieters: “A lot of cards to play”

Dutch Amy Pieters is one of the new signings of the Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for 2016.  Born on 1 June 1991, the 24 year old from Haarlem, The Netherlands, has spent her entire professional career (starting in 2011) with the Liv-Plantur (formerly Giant-Shimano) team.

Here’s an introduction to this incredibly talented all-rounder.

Pieters, currently living in Zwanenburg (NL), is from a real cycling family as she is the daughter of former pro cyclist and current Belgian National track coach Peter Pieters, and a sister of Roy Pieters. So despite not wanting to become a cyclist in the beginning, it was obvious that she was going to try her luck in cycling. Starting at the age of 9 Pieters started her first races aged 10. At first it was mostly for pleasure but it became more serious from the “beginner” and “junior” categories. Pieters won a lot of races and became a National Road Champion in both.

amypieters

Despite having good results as a Junior Amy joined the Merida Cycling Team of Sissy van Alebeek in 2010 as a first year professional. She made the choice to start slowly and to ride with the National Team of Johan Lammerts a few times in the big races. From 2011 the Merida team turned into Skil-Koga (and is now Liv-Plantur) and steadily developed into a very structured professional team.

In the past five years as a professional cyclist Pieters has won the Omloop het Nieuwsblad (2013), a stage in the Tour of Qatar (2014), the prologue in the Route de France (2015) and twice Dwars door Vlaanderen (2014/2015). Other impressive results where 3rd in La Course (2015), 2nd at the National Championships (2015), 2nd in the World Cup Ronde van Drenthe (2015, behind new Belgian teammate Jolien D’hoore), 2nd in the Open de Suede Vargarda (2014) and 3rd in the World Cups of Sweden and China in 2013.

Amy is also a respectable rider on the track with multiple National Championships in different events. In 2012 she was part of the Netherlands team that competed in the Team Pursuit at the Olympic Games, in London, where they took a sixth place.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling
After five years with Liv-Plantur it was the right time for Pieters to seek new challenges in her career and signed a contract with the British registered and number one team in the world Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling of manager Rochelle Gilmore. Pieters explained she has made the move as she looks to further develop herself on the road.  Last year Pieters won the prologue in the Route de France and held the leader’s jersey for three days before new teammate Elisa Longo Borghini took it over on her way to win the race.

“I have had a beautiful time with Liv-Plantur. And I am very grateful for the opportunities they gave me. I can say that the team has taken me to the level I am at the moment due to all the trust and faith they had in me. But after five years on the same team  I was seeking for new challenges and experiences.  I think Wiggle High5 is the perfect team to give me that. I really admire the way the team is racing, and it is a beautiful and professional team with lots of strong riders. I’m really looking forward to doing races with them, and to be in the final with some strong teammates. I hope we can win a lot of races.

“I think I can develop myself more with the help of multiple strong riders and new staff around me. I also want to make the next step; I think I’ve reached a high level with Liv-Plantur, but I think Wiggle High5 can help me to get me to a higher level. I am super motivated for the new season because of the new step I made to change teams.”, concludes Pieters who will be a further classics card the team can play alongside Emma Johansson and Tour of Flanders winner Elisa Longo Borghini.”

For Pieters it has also played an important role to work together with one of the best sports directors in women’s cycling, Egon van Kessel. Van Kessel, who had an outstanding season with the team in 2015, has also worked successfully with the Cervélo TestTeam, and as Dutch National team coach in the past. After the gold medal of Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, van Kessel was awarded the Olympic Coach Award from the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF).

“Having Egon as a sports-director played an important role in my choice. When you can take a lot of victories with several riders in such a strong team you are doing a great job. We also have the same idea about cycling so I am looking forward to work with him.”

Lots of talent
With the arrival of Pieters, Lucy Garner and Emma Johansson, Wiggle High5 has added more talent to the already impressive team roster, which already includes the likes of Longo Borghini, Giorgia Bronzini and D’hoore. Pieters is hoping she can play an important role to get more impressive team wins in 2016.

“This year we have a lot of good riders with the same but also many different qualities. We are able to compete in a lot of beautiful races and I hope we can win a lot of them as a result. I really hope I can play an important role in that.

Having Johansson, D’hoore and Longo Borghini in the team, aiming for lots of the same spring races, can be an advantage. The previous years on Liv-Plantur I was almost all by myself in the finale, so it is hard to play several cards. If you look back to last year it worked out well for Wiggle Honda (now High5) so why not this year as well? As a rider it is always a matter of giving and taking and I think we can achieve a lot of great things with that this year.

“I really hope the team can win a lot of big races next year and I hope I can win one or more myself as well. For the long term it is hard to say as a lot can happen. For now I am only focusing on 2016.”

Pieters will make her debut for the team in the Ladies Tour of Qatar next week. In 2014 Pieters won the second stage and was second overall in the race through the desert. This time it will be a good test-event for the World Championships in Qatar in October of this year.  In between, Pieters will do all the major spring classics and hopes to get a spot on the Dutch team for the Olympics in Rio. But she says that will be a hard challenge.

“Of course the Olympic Games are always a target for every sportsperson. However I am realistic enough to realise that it will be a hard and tough challenge to get on the Netherlands team, with only four spots and lots of good riders. But it doesn’t mean that I am not thinking about it or looking at it. I will do my best to get on the team and I am aware that it will be a tough challenge. But I’ll go for it. That’s all I can do.”

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