After a short cyclo-cross season, Marianne Vos will line-up with her new Jumbo-Visma team as their ‘protected rider’ for her first road race of the year at Strade Bianche on Saturday.
Strade Bianche marks the first round of the Women’s WorldTour where Vos lines up as a key contender alongside rivals, defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo).
“Last weekend, I followed the races and I started itching to be there again,” Vos said of watching her team race at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
“The preparation has been good and I am looking forward to it. Although you always have to wait and see where you stand at the first race. Strade Bianche is in any case a race that appeals to me. It is a tough course with a beautiful setting. It is nice to be here and to have already done a recon together.”
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Vos signed a three-year contract with Jumbo-Visma’ new Continental women’s cycling team where she aims to continue building on a stellar 16-year career that has seen her become a 12-time world champion, two-time Olympic gold medallist, and has secured hundreds of other victories.
Vos did not compete in the first European race of the season at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 27 in Belgium but said watching the women’s race made her feel motivated to begin her own season with the team in Italy for Strade Bianche.
Vos said that she has been preparing for the Women’s WorldTour opener at an altitude training camp in Tenerife. She will lead the Jumbo-Visma team at Strade Bianche that also includes Riejanne Markus, Aafke Soet, Julie Van de Velde, Teuntje Beekhuis and Anouska Koster.
Vos finished sixth on the iconic Piazza del Campo in Siena, in last year’s August edition of Strade Bianche, as Van Vleuten secured the day’s victory. Jumbo-Visma director Marco Postma cautioned that Vos is only beginning her season and so she and Markus will be protected riders, and that the team will also focus on teamwork and communication.
“Marianne’s first races so soon after the ‘cross season are not among her main goals. For that reason, both Marianne and Riejanne will be our protected riders Saturday.” Postma said.
“That went very well in the first races, but there is still much growth to be achieved. We saw during today’s recon that the gravel strips were in good shape. Our goal is to be at the front of the race as a team before the start of each strip. Especially sector five will be a decisive stretch towards the final. Luckily everyone is in good shape and that gives a lot of confidence.”
The women’s 136km race will start at 9:10am CET and include a total of 31.4 kilometres of gravel, across eight sectors, before finishing on the steep ascent at the Piazza del Campo in Siena.
🇮🇹 #StradeBianche Happy faces before today’s recon ride 😁 pic.twitter.com/hQn0d0uk1NMarch 4, 2021