Christmas came early for Ellen van Dijk
When Ellen van Dijk won the world championship in the individual time trial last September, a flurry of emails went out across Trek HQ. They were full of celebratory exclamations, yes, but also there was important work to be done.
A World Champion-caliber athlete deserves a World Champion bike, but it’s no easy task sourcing and painting a bike as badass as Ellen van Dijk.
Brian Lindstrom, Trek’s art director for racing teams and special projects, is at the center of the storm, collecting input and setting tasks in motion
"I got emails from 20 different people from around the company reminding me that she won. Everyone gets really excited. You've got the race shop, you get some marketing, you maybe get some execs saying, 'Hey we want to get this done, let's get this started" Lindstrom says
Trek is in the fortunate position of having had several world champions across multiple cycling disciplines in recent years, from Mads Pedersen at the 2019 men’s road race in Harrogate, to Reece Wilson at the 2020 men’s downhill final in Leogang, to Evie Richards at the 2021 women’s cross country final in Val di Sole.
Lindstrom played with some of the popular elements from those World Championship designs, then added touches unique to Van Dijk’s personality and achievement.
“Ellen’s bike takes the boldness of past World Champs bikes we’ve done with the detail and finesse of some more recent versions, and just merges the best of two worlds,” Lindstrom says. “I like to bring color through the bike to draw your eye from one side of the bike to the other. The Speed Concept here has a lot of shape and form to it, so we’re putting in these colored blocks where they fit the form.”
Former Trek-Segafredo technical director Matt Shriver reached out to Van Dijk and asked if there was anything she’d like to put on the bike to personalize it. She suggested two phrases. The first was “No Matter What,” which references Pitbull’s words — “no matter what, face everything and rise” — at the end of his song, “I Believe That We Will Win.” The second was the hashtag “#nuchternaardetop”, which translates roughly from Dutch to English as “from the earth to the top.”
"It means that I have to stay grounded and not get lost in detail. You want to do everything 100 percent, but it doesn't normally go that well because you get overfocused" Van Dijk says
Van Dijk’s boyfriend reminds her of the words frequently. He is a centering presence in her life. “He really helps me to stay grounded and say, ‘No, focus on the big picture and don’t go crazy. Just do things like you normally do, and that’s good enough.'”
Lindstrom and the Trek designers like to work on the parts of the bike that they know only the rider themselves are likely to see.
“We’re always aware that the cockpit space is a pretty personal space when you’re on a bike for a long period of time,” Lindstrom says. “So we try to put meaningful things up there. That’s the top spot for any kind of artwork or quotes.”
Van Dijk’s World Championship was a joyous and cathartic occasion, representing eight years of hard work to wear the rainbow jersey for the second time in her career. She has vowed to enjoy the win to its absolute fullest. Now she has a one-of-a-kind Speed Concept worthy of an achievement unlike any other.