Anna Plichta was a late signing to the Boels-Dolmans team at the end of 2017. When a spot opened up after British cross champion Nikki Brammeier decided to leave the team to focus solely on cyclocross, DS Danny Stam didn’t hesitate to contact Plichta. The tall, cheerful Polish rider didn’t have any trouble fitting in and is currently enjoying a training camp in Spain with new teammates Amy Pieters and Chantal Blaak.
“Everyone is so nice,” Plichta said. “We hit it off straight away, we talk so much and they really help me out.”
“When I first joined the team for the ski trip in Austria last December, I was a bit afraid,” Plichta explained. “I didn’t know the girls, apart from racing with them. But that’s always the case when you’re new to something, it’s always a bit scary. But everyone is really nice.”
Plichta was a latecomer in cycling, only taking up the sport when she was fourteen. And she didn’t even like it. “I was in a small team in the local village where I lived,” Plichta said. “I started cycling there, but I didn’t like it. We mountain biked, but I was so scared of the downhills. I stuck with it, but didn’t particularly enjoy it.”
“Two years later, I tried road racing for the first time. In my very first race, I got second,” Plichta continued. “Apparently, I was pretty good at it, so I decided to only do road racing from then on. But it was hard. As a junior in Poland, you do all you races with the elites. It was just too hard for me and the DNF’s started to add up. So when I was eighteen, I decided to stop and focus on my studies.”
But Plichta didn’t leave the sport entirely. She stayed with the team to help out her coach, driving the team to races sometimes, going with them to training camps. For a year and a half, Plichta didn’t race. She then took up the sport again, although that wasn't necessarily because she missed it too much. “I gained so much weight!”, Plichta exclaimed. “I had to lose the weight somehow, so that was a good reason to take up cycling again. I also took up running and at one point I thought, ‘maybe I can participate in nationals’.”
And that’s what she did. Plichta prepared for the national road championships, rode a solid race and crossed the line in fifth position. It gave her cycling career a boost, as the biggest amateur team in Poland offered her a contract. With top tens and top twenties in her first year as a fulltime cyclist, she got the attention of UCI team BTC City Ljubljana. After a year with them, Plichta transferred to WM3 Pro Cycling in 2017, the team of Marianne Vos, to join her compatriot Kasia Niewiadoma. What was supposed to be her big break, didn’t work out that way.
“We had all the races planned for the whole season, but I had a lot of bad luck last year,” Plichta said. “I had a lot of crashes, was sick many times. It all started in December, when my preparation for the season began. One week in, I twisted my ankle and I couldn’t do anything for two weeks. I had to start up again at the beginning of January.”
“It was just a really bad year for me,” Plichta reflected. “Maybe the improvement I had made each year was just a little bit too much for my body and it just said ‘stop’. I had to clear my mind and try to find back the happiness on the bike. Because sometimes last year... I trained as best as I could, but I couldn’t really enjoy it.”
After all the turmoil, the happiness is back and Plichta is excited to represent Boels-Dolmans on the road in 2018. Humble as she is, her personal ambitions are team focused. “I hope I’m in good enough shape to help the team when they need me,” she said. “That’s the most important thing. With the number of excellent riders on the team, I know I probably won’t have a lot of opportunities where I can race for my own chances, and I understand that. But for me, it is a really big deal that I am part of the team and will be racing with them in 2018. I really can’t wait for the season to start.”