Marianne Vos is ” the GOAT [Greatest of All Time, la meilleure de tous les temps] absolute ». The compliment is signed Mark Cavendish, nothing less. When he pays tribute to his Dutch counterpart, this July 8, 2021, the British cyclist is on the roads of the Tour de France. Two days earlier, in Valence, he won a 3e stage victory on this edition of the Grande Boucle, the 33e of his career, a length of the record of the “Cannibal” Eddy Merckx – which he will eventually equal before the arrival on the Champs-Elysées. But, for the native of the Isle of Man, that summer, it was the Jumo-Visma rider who deserved the light.
On the other side of the Alps, Marianne Vos had just lifted a 30e hands on the Giro Rosa, the women’s version of the Tour of Italy, the most prestigious event on the women’s circuit. A feat that the British Elizabeth Banks tried with a touch of humor to put into perspective: “Imagine that the Giro Rosa has 11 fewer stages [que la Grande Boucle]. We could consider that this is equivalent to 69.3 Tour de France stage victories. »
wow! To put this in to perspective, think about @MarkCavendish incredible 33 TDF stage wins. Then think that the Gi… https://t.co/PnRLRepjgV
This year, Marianne Vos added two more stages to her list, before abandoning the Italian race. For “ [s]focus on the team’s next goals”she explained.
On Monday July 25, the Dutchwoman from the Jumbo-Visma team won the second stage of the Tour de France, in Provins (Seine-et-Marne), at the same time donning the yellow jersey of an event that is making a comeback. , after more than thirty years of absence.
“Our best spokesperson”
This race, the native of Bois-le-Duc (‘s-Hertogenbosch in Dutch) had been calling for for many years. With cyclists Kathryn Bertine, Emma Pooley and triathlete Chrissie Wellington, she had made a claim in discussions with Amaury Sport Organization, the manager of the Tour and the International Cycling Union, to ensure more parity in the discipline.
“He is our best spokesperson”, summarizes the race director, Marion Rousse. If the former champion of France sees more Dutch Annemiek van Vleuten leave with the yellow jersey, on July 31, she is convinced that Marianne Vos will be one of the key actresses of this edition: “She will perhaps be there more to blow up the stages than to aim for the general classification, but she will be very important in the course of the event. »
The Batave had a mixed start to the year: after an eighth world title at the end of January in cyclo-cross, in Fayetteville (Arkansas), its recovery on the road was thwarted by the Covid-19, which will force it , at the last moment, to give up the “queen of the classics”, Paris-Roubaix. A heartbreak for the one who was determined to take her revenge after her 2e place, during the inaugural edition, in October 2021.
Thirteen world titles in three different disciplines
Her appetite for victory, Marianne Vos cultivates it from an early age. It was in the wake of her brother, Anton, that she discovered her passion for cycling. First bike at 6, first race at 8, first victories at 14. From the start, she was praised for her strength, for her speed and above all for her incredible winning spirit.
“When I won my first rainbow jersey in 2004 [championne du monde sur route junior, à Vérone, en Italie], the idea of a career as a professional cyclist crossed my mind. There weren’t many girls who were 100% dedicated to it, but I decided to give it a shot and do my best.”she explains, on her website.
Four years later, Marianne Vos became, at the age of 21, the first cyclist to win a world championship title in three different disciplines: road, track and cyclo-cross. Today, she has accumulated eight in cyclo-cross (in 2006, from 2009 to 2014 and in 2022), two on the track (the points race in 2008 and the scratch in 2011) and three on the road (2006, 2012 and 2013).
She can also boast, among other things, of having won Olympic gold twice – the points race at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the road race in London in 2012 – three times the General of the Giro and five Flèche Wallonne.
“She has done a lot for women’s cycling, and her record speaks for her. Above all, she is a very nice girl who never puts herself forward »smiles Marion Rousse, who rubbed shoulders with her during her years spent in the professional peloton.
What also impresses in the Dutchwoman’s career is her ability to overcome setbacks to last at the highest level. In 2015, Marianne Vos suffered from back problems and was only able to compete in two races during the season. But she returned the following year, persevered and returned to victory before regaining, in 2019, the top of the world hierarchy.
“To be on the podium by his side is extraordinary”
“She has been an inspiration to me in so many ways, for so many years”had greeted Mark Cavendish, also author of an impressive comeback, in 2021, after three years of crossing the desert.
Henk Vos, the champion’s father, remembers this summer of 1996 when the Tour de France stopped in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the excitement of his then 9-year-old daughter. Of his desire to glean the autographs of his favorite runners. It is now his turn to endorse the status of icon.
Just crowned world champion on the road, in September 2021, the Italian Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo), 23, had let it be known, on Eurosport, all the admiration she has for Marianne Vos, that she was coming to get ahead in the sprint:
” On one of my first pro races, I asked to take a picture with her. So being on the podium alongside him is extraordinary. I’ve always been impressed with his ability to win any type of race. I think she is an example for everyone. »
Since the first pedal strokes of little Marianne, almost thirty years ago, the women’s peloton has grown, specialized and professionalized. “Before, there was just Marianne Vos. Now we also have sprinters, punchers, climbers”joked with the World, in 2021, Belgian cyclist Jolien D’Hoore, now retired. The queen had to learn to share her throne. For his greatest pleasure.