The Czech rider is just one of three of her compatriots to be riding in the World Tour in 2022 and she sat down with We Love Cycling to discuss signing her first pro contract and what the year has in store for her.
🚨 New rider alert 🚨
Happy to welcome these four riders to the Lotto Soudal Ladies next year, which makes our women's team complete for 2022 ✅
🇧🇪 Esmée Gielkens (20)
🇧🇪 Ines Van de Paar (18)
🇬🇧 Josie Knight (24)
🇨🇿 Kristýna Burlová (19) pic.twitter.com/Sk5BmanfRu
— Lotto Soudal (@Lotto_Soudal) November 6, 2021
Like many riders of her age, Burlová has been making waves on the national scene for some time, most notably at Czech national championships, placing in the top 10 in both the road race and the time trial. As comfortable on the track as she is on the road, Burlová speaks to We Love Cycling from Mallorca before meeting up with her new team at the training camp.
The excitement she has for 2022 is already noticeable but she is under no illusion that it will be eye-opening. She starts: “It’s going to be a big step for me. I’m really excited but I’m also a bit scared. The racing will be hard, and it will be really different from what I’m used to in the Czech Republic. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and knowing what professional cycling looks like.”
For any young rider, the first season is all about discovery and finding your place in the peloton. Burlová describes herself as a punchy rider who can climb well, suited to the classics and other one-day races. But first, she will have to get acclimatised to both the speed and distance of the World Tour.
She continues: “Races in the Czech Republic are really short, about 60-90 km. There are also not so many girls. It gets better but still, the level is not that high. UCI races are longer, the World Tour races are about 150 km. And there are many riders, so the starting field is huge!”
That culture shock will be lessened by the work of her team and coaches. In 2022, Lotto Soudal Ladies have changed pace, moving to the development of riders, something that attracted Burlová to the cause.
“I was in contact with some other continental teams from the Netherlands like Parkhotel Valkenburg, NXTG or Norwegian World Tour team Uno-X but, in the end, they told me that I’m young and they need some more experienced riders or they have a full team signed already.
“We were also in contact with Lotto; firstly they didn’t know if it would be possible but then our director wrote to me that they are interested because they want to focus on young and talented girls this year.”
In a stacked year for women’s cycling, with nearly double the amount of race days compared to 2021, riders like Burlová will be needed more than ever, something she is aware of.
Explaining her training during the early part of the season, she said: “I have to be prepared as best as possible for the upcoming season. I have different training sessions, mostly endurance (about 4-5 hours) but also some uphill intervals or shorter sessions with some sprints.”
Her schedule for 2022 is yet to be finalised, with much of that happening whilst with her team in Calpe this week. But there is one race that stands out for Burlová.
“It was always my dream to start some big races like, for example, spring classic monuments. I wish I could start at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It’s my favourite race to watch on TV because it’s really hard. So, we will see if I will race it and if it will stay my favourite race after that.
“I just want to get as many experiences as possible and grow as a rider and also as a person. And then I would like to try some big races, as I said, and make it to the finish. I also have a little goal of making the European Championships.”
Burlová lists as her heroes Chloe Dygert and Demi Vollering, two stars to look up to and emulate in 2022. She will get the chance to race alongside them this year but another focus of Burlová will continue this year – her university studies in Tropical Agrisciences.
“I really like biology and I wanted to study microbiology at Charles University [in Prague, Czech Republic] but then I realised that it would be hard to combine it with professional cycling.
“I found another course and it looked pretty interesting and this school is much ‘easier’ than Charles University. So here I am, studying plants and topics like how we will live and eat in 2050.”
With someone as dedicated as Burlová looking after our food future, we should be in safe hands as surely will her first season in the World Tour, racing across Europe and mixing it with the best.
But it all starts with her first ride with the team in Calpe this week. After that, only time will tell.