Marie Vilmann looks back on a difficult 2017
Marie Vilmann has missed most of the season due to Achilles inflammation. Though she’s found it frustrating sitting on the sidelines, she’s been part of some special memories in the early part of the year that’s kept her motivated. Marie is currently training in the off-season preparing for 2018 with the injury behind her.
What is it like following the races from home?
It’s hard but it’s also exciting. Of course, I want to be there and race with the girls but I also like to cheer them on and send my energy to them even though I’m not there. I think it was fun to watch the world championships. I’d rather race than watch but it’s ok to watch them.
Have you been following most of the races throughout the season?
In the beginning, I took a month off social media completely. I didn’t watch any races just to refresh my mind. Then I started to watch the races again.
You did quite a few races in the beginning of the year.
It went very well. I got the opportunity to race some important races. It felt amazing to be part of some important victories. I felt I and all the girls were developing a lot. I was looking forward to continuing the way we started and was looking forward to the more hilly races in the next part of the season. I felt like I was on a good development so it was very hard to get this injury.
You were 12th in Fleche Wallonne and 22nd in Liege. This was in your first year at the highest level.
I learnt a lot about racing from Thomas and all the girls. Every day you learn a little about yourself when you push yourself so much. Most of the girls are more experienced than I am so I learnt so much. In Fleche, Ashleigh told me to follow a move when there was an attack. That’s how I got into the breakaway. After the race, we had a debrief and discussed when a good time is to break away. We did this after every race and that is how we’ve been developing in all these races.
You also attacked in Gent Wevelgem setting up the victory for Lotta.
The instruction came from Thomas in the car to attack at that moment. I thought, "ok". It was the same in Fleche when Ashleigh said "go" and I just went. I’m still learning how to read the race so it’s nice to get the instruction when to go. Hopefully, in the future, I will learn how to make the right moves and I don’t need to wait for instructions.
You were also part of the victory in Valenciana.
We were working so well together and that was a great experience. There is always pressure when you have the yellow jersey. Cille had the jersey for most of the race but it was a lot of fun. You wake up and want to give your best every day to keep the jersey. We did very well. Cille won, Ashleigh was third and I got fourth. As a team, we did very well and we were quite strong on the climbs. It was fun to play a role and have responsibility. Before coming to the team, I wasn’t really part of the races, I was just trying to hang on. This year it was incredible to feel that it was the others who were trying to hang on.
I remember Gent Wevelgem was such a hard race but it was one of my best races actually. It felt like we could do anything that day. We raced as a unit and it was amazing that Lotta won. When the race is so hard and you succeed in the end, it’s an incredible feeling.
You got to commentate on Danish TV during the World Championships TTT. How was that?
It was fun. I was excited to see the girls and how they’d do. I was nervous but not because of live TV but because I wanted the girls to win. I knew they could do a good result so it was fun to watch. It was great to talk about women’s cycling and give insight to all the riders and teams in the peloton. I was the “expert” there on women’s cycling so it was great to bring insight into the sport because most of the guys usually watch men’s cycling. The TTT is a really difficult discipline and I could explain how some teams were really smooth and others didn’t have a good plan and didn’t race together as a unit. It’s important to have a plan as it’s a strategic race because the riders have different strengths.
What would make 2018 a successful year for you?
To not be injured. I’d like to come back and make a difference for the team and help Ashleigh, Cille and Lotta. The world championships in Austria looks like a really cool course so I’d like to be there. I also want to race the Giro next year.