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Giro d’Italia Donne: Marianne Vos emerges from slow season start to keep packing palmarès

Vos wins for the first time on the road in 2022 as Giro haul continues to expand.

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Marianne Vos and victory are synonymous.

Throughout her long, multi-disciplinary career she has racked up win after win, resulting in a palmarès that could fill several volumes. Her place in cycling history is already cemented; often referred to as “the greatest of all time” – any argument against such hyperbole would be met with resounding silence.

It might be surprising then to note that her win on stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia Donne – her 31st stage victory at the race – is her first of this year’s road season.

Also read: Vos makes it 31 at Giro Donne

Not her first of the year, though.

Vos took the cyclocross world championship title in Arkansas in January, 8 years on from her previous stint in the CX rainbow stripes. It capped an excellent off-road season in which she won six of the ten races she started. Her road season, by contrast, has been underwhelming by her own lofty standards.

She has been selective in her race choices, clocking up just six race days on the road prior to the Giro. This was in part due to her targeting Paris-Roubaix Femmes. Her preparations for the race saw her opting out of other opportunities, for example Amstel Gold Race, but she contracted COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw on the morning of Paris-Roubaix.

The frustration of missing the race combined with the impact the virus had on her condition led to uncertainties regarding her level ahead of the Giro. Today’s finish, coming off the back of a close call Friday, leaves little doubt in the mind – Vos is back to her best.

The Giro is a race where Vos has shone throughout her career, so it feels fitting that her first win of the season comes on familiar territory, the day after she just missed out to Elisa Balsamo. The victory comes fifteen years after her first, in 2007.

Scrolling through Vos’ list of achievements at the Giro alone takes a substantial amount of time. The statistics speak for themselves: in 11 participations at the race, she’s won 31 stages and has three times been crowned the overall winner.

It’s a remarkable rate of return – Vos has won almost a third of the Giro stages she’s ridden, and almost a third of the GC battles.

With a strong field of competitors this year, is victory in the overall classification a realistic goal for Vos?

Also read: Ten riders to watch at the Giro d’Italia Donne

With three stages down ahead of tomorrow’s rest day, Vos trails just six seconds behind the overall leader and world champion Balsamo who wears the maglia rosa on her debut at the race.

With a series of flat, hilly and mountain stages still to come it’s anybody’s guess who will win, but Vos looks in good shape and her Jumbo-Visma team has been visible at the front of the peloton riding on her behalf.

The threat of Movistar’s Annemiek van Vleuten looms large however. Van Vleuten herself has a striking history of success at the race – she has won eleven stages at the race and topped the GC twice GC. It will be down to Vos, along with the likes of Elisa Longo Borghini and Marta Cavalli and their teams to try and find ways to thwart Vos’ countrywoman on the big climbs.

If Vos can limit her losses to Van Vleuten in the mountains she stands a strong chance of taking a fourth overall victory at the race she has dominated for so long, and adding yet more wins to her ever-lengthening list.