For Nicole, training with the boys was the way to go. Harder, further and faster. Fewer breaks and even harder. Her brother describes it as 'maybe even too tough'.

Nicole started biking at the age of 6 and would always push harder and further. As she trained and progressed in racing, she became junior World Champion XCO in 2014. A result achieved with tremendous work but at huge cost. As she strived to maximize performance, she developed an eating disorder.

"You focus too much on numbers. You push your body in the training and in the same way you try to become lighter. You keep others away as they might see you have a problem. I had no one to speak to. It is a topic boys do not know, or do not want to speak about themselves. That was the hardest part to me.”

“My parents realized soon I had a big problem. They supported me so much and due to them I could get out of this. It still took me three or four years to get out of this circle." Her family helped her get back on her feet and now she is on her way to achieve that top performance with a healthy body and mind.

"I'm really happy to race in a girls' team now. When you can discuss everything openly, it is so much nicer. It feels like a second family when I'm away from home. There's a life after my professional career. I want to be healthy when I'm 60 as well."


Photos: Attention Builders

Video: Lars Veenstra


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