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Marianne Vos eyes big wins in 2021: ‘I can still challenge and improve myself’

Marianne Vos heads into the 2021 season with a new Jumbo-Visma team and a familiar set of goals. Vos, 33, wants to win.

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Pro cycling’s most prolific active champion, Marianne Vos, starts her 2021 campaign this weekend at Strade Bianche. Vos begins her 16th season in the pro ranks with a familiar set of goals.

She wants to win big races and help her Jumbo-Visma team battle with the other top teams in the UCI Women’s WorldTour — the same thing Vos has accomplished for the entirety of her career. After spending most of her life involved in elite cycling, Vos says she’s not planning to change her focus anytime soon.

“It’s not a goal to go on as long as I can, but I still feel like I can grow and I can challenge myself and still improve myself. As long as I’m enjoying what I do and I’m surrounded by such a good environment as I’m in now, for me it’s no reason to think about something else,” the 33-year-old told VeloNews. 

“Health of course is one of the things that you never know, so that’s also why I’m not as focused on how long just living in the now enjoying what I’m doing now and working towards the next goals that are coming up.”

With such prodigious success, most riders would be happy to stay at the team they have competed with for 14 years, but this season Vos has left to join the newly formed Jumbo-Visma women’s team

“As you can imagine it was not an easy switch for me,” she said. “I didn’t really think about changing teams last year until Esra [Tromp, team manager] called, she explained what the goal was and what the plans were, and she gave me time to think about it.

“I took the time because, like I say I had my place, I felt decent in that environment and it’s hard to leave, but I also saw this as a great opportunity to step into this new environment.”

For team manager Esra Tromp, Vos was a key rider when establishing the team.

“For sure she is a really important rider, we knew she was the right fit because of her experience and because of the person she is,” Tromp told VeloNews from her Dutch home. “That made me work for her a little bit harder, but we knew this would be a really good step for her and the team.”

As she set about setting the team up she attracted plenty of inquiries from prospective recruits, but 30-year-old Tromp, a former professional cyclist who started her management career with Parkhotel-Valkenburg, was careful in building her squad.

“I am not a fan of buying the biggest girls and the egos, I was looking for a certain type of person in the team and I was really critical on that,” Tromp said. “We had a lot of talks with some girls to see what their ambitions were and how they behave and what they want to do for their goals.

“We have set the goals for the team and with some girls, we want to be winning races and be visible in the final, but for other girls, we want to see a good step in their development.”

While Tromp has built a squad with a good variety of youth and experience, Vos’s pedigree without doubt puts her as the leader. Indeed, over the last five seasons, she has more WorldTour victories than the rest of the squad together have wins in all categories.

However, there are other winners and exciting talent the team will look to, with the likes of former Dutch champion Anouska Koster, compatriots Jip van den Bos, and Nancy van den Burg, Belgian climber Julie Van de Velde and 22-year-old Brit Anna Henderson tipped for success.

They will benefit from Vos’s knowledge and experience, something she has always been generous in passing on. “That’s one of the things that I want to do. It’s a great environment for [me] to grow and to learn from the experience from the staff and other riders, but also to share my experience with others,” she said.

“There’s a lot of learning experiences, most of the time from things that didn’t really work out well. But it’s not only that I can share my experience, and add value to others, but it’s also really nice to see those young girls with their fresh mentality, it’s also good to see that and feel their energy strength, and passion.”

“One of the team focuses there is not always one leader, and not one or two riders who get all the opportunities,” Vos said. “You’ll see some interesting team strategies, but one of the main goals is to get different riders in the front.”

Pandemic permitting, Vos take on Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Amstel Gold Race — one of the few races missing from her palmarès. However though she would love to win, her main targets come much later in the season when she will be looking for Olympic gold in Tokyo and yet another rainbow jersey in Flanders.

But Vos is relishing the challenge in her new team and while she enjoys riding expect her to keep winning.