Name: Willeke Knol

Racing Age:  25

Specialty: All-arounder

Nationality: Dutch

Hometown: Hasselt

Residence: Zwolle

Birthday: 10-04-1991

Height: 1.76

Strengths: flat and windy races

Pro Since: 2013

+ What inspired you to start bike riding/racing?

My family: The cycling bug got me at my 7th thanks to my family. My dad, brothers and one of my sisters were riding bike (two of my sisters are got married with cyclist, my sister in law as well and even my mum is riding bike! J). Sometimes I went with the to support and I liked it a lot. I started to race on the smallest size bike that exist. Racing and training was a lot of fun at the club where I started. At my 12th I decided to quit and tried some other sports. But then.. when I was 16 one of my brothers surprised me with a re-built bike. He told me that I could use it if I would like it. I did and it was like magic. I knew directly that I had to start again. And so it happened. After a few years at a club team I made the step to a UCI team. And now will it be my 5th year in a UCI team!

+ What inspires you every day to get on your bike?

Cycling is so much more than just riding a bike and that is what makes it so amazing. I love to go outside, to discover the nature. I like to challenge and compete myself during training. The hard work to get in shape towards the races. To work for the goals that we will have as team and in personal. The feeling that you will have when you finally lay on the couch after a hard or long training. I love to see so many countries and cultures by bike and all the people you meet through cycling. It is like: dream and ride your bike to make the dreams come true!

+ What does inspire to achieve mean to you know?

One of the things which inspires me a lot is to get to know as much as I can about the course, where the key points will be, where I need to be extra focused. This preparation I do also together with my dad, because he is like a TomTom. For example two years ago in one of the races in Drenthe we worked like this, we went to the course to check it. It worked out perfectly, I could make the breakaway at the point as we said, while my dad was watching together with my mum and boyfriend how our preparation became real. That was just an amazing day for us :) Also I can get very inspired by a team plan before the race. I like it a lot to work for a sprinter for example. Three and two years ago when I was also with Kirsten in the team we made often a plan for the finale, when it all works out and she wins than it feels also for myself as a victory. It is such a teamsport other than a lot of people outside the sport expects and this is something that gives me really a lot of motivation. You just have to work as one team for one goal, it is a process where you learn and win.

+ How do you use data for your training and racing?

After a training or race I send my data to my trainer. Together with my input of my feeling about the training our race we make a good plan that also fits in the raceprogram of the team and my own goals. I like the data also for motivation. Once you know what you can reach you surely want to reach it again or even better and when that happens towards a race it gives even more confidence.

+ What does technology bring into bike racing?

I like work with a SRM-powermeter. It is so efficient. It gives me confidence and a good view of where I am standing in my training or to compare my feeling about a training or race and the given numbers of the SRM.

+ Did you like math and science in school?

No! I wasn’t good at math. And at science I always made sure that I was working together with a friend of mine, my job was to write everything she found out down on paper ;)

+ What is your super power?

My commitment and loyalty as teammate. Riding through the bunch, be on point as we speak about in the pre-race meeting and the typical Dutch-windy races are things that fit be well.

+ What are your favorite pastimes and hobbies outside of bikes?

To me my boyfriend, family and friends are really important. So when I am home I always try to meet them. Then I like to go out for a drink or meal.

+ What is your favorite pre-race or post-race meal?

Before a race in the morning it will be bread with appelstroop (which is something Dutch) and oats. When we have a later start I will also like to eat pasta with tomato sauce before. After the race I also like pasta but then with some more things with it and a nice salad. After a stage race I am always looking forward to something different, something typically Dutch or pancakes. But in off season you can make me happy with a good pizza, tapas and of course a tiramisu 

+ Who is your hero?

For racing it is definitely my brother! We are quite similar riders, our style and way of riding through the bunch. I recognize him from miles away. If I go to watch him racing I am just so so proud of him. It is just a few years ago already but I will still never forget the day when he got third on the first race of the year. In the Elite bunch always a race where everyone ones to show themselves. Half a year before he already told my parents and me to safe the data. He went all the way there to see the course, even the day before he went to the hairdresser and my mum put a flower vase ready. On the day itself it went all according to his plan, he made it on to that podium that he wanted so much. I was so proud!

+ What is one piece of advice you would give to another up and coming cyclist or fan?

Commitment, discipline and loyalty can bring you what you dream of.

+ What is something “if you would have known then what you known now”?

haha then I would have known at my first school day ever in the first class of primary school already that Klaas Jan would be my boyfriend! But luckily now I know it anyway :)

+ When you think of your happy place, where is that?

Home. I love to spend the long summer nights in our garden.

+ Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?

Dance with your heart and your feet will follow

+ What is your vice?


+ You are stranded on a desert island and have to choose one thing to have with you. What is that?

I would say my toothbrush and toothpaste, cause I am always looking forward after a race to brush my teeth.

+ What is your favorite race and why?

World Tour Drenthe. The course fits me really well. It is not far from my home and it is every year again a hard race. It has a lot of things which can make the race hard and difficult, often a lot of wind, cobbles, the VAM-berg which can be a key point as well. You just need to be sharp all day.