Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.
Marianne Vos could have clicked into cruise control for 2021 as she rode into her 15th pro season. After spending her whole pro career within the Rabobank/CCC organization, she was still winning big and showing no signs of slowing down.
Instead, the Dutch supremo threw off the comfort blanket and took one big sideways step into the unknown, all with a view to taking two steps forward.
- Everyone wins with Marianne Vos heading up new Jumbo-Visma women’s team
- Marianne Vos’ route to Olympic road race detours through cyclocross worlds
- Marianne Vos is a living legend
When the newly formed Jumbo-Visma Women’s team landed onto the scene late last year, Vos was presented a new pathway that she didn’t know she was looking for, but which was too tempting to turn down.
“I didn’t really think about changing teams until this opportunity came,” she said. “But I thought if I want to change teams at my age, if I want to do something new, this is the time, and if I wait longer, then I might not do it. If I want to improve, if I want to challenge myself, then this might be my perfect chance.”
Vos will lead the charge at the second-tier Dutch team in 2021 after riding her entire pro racing life within the team structure that started as Team DSB in 2008 before evolving through Rabobank, WaowDeals, and CCC-Liv. She was still in winning ways and good relations with the squad, so if nothing’s broken, why fix it?
For Vos, it was a matter of keeping the wheels of progress turning.
“Having been for a very long time in my former team, it wasn’t easy to leave. Also, a team that had been good for me and that I have very fond memories with,” she said in a video interview released by Jumbo-Visma.
“But then, when Jumbo-Visma came, it’s such a fantastic team, and as a Dutch team on such a high level with a men’s team and all the structure around it. It all made it easier for me to say ‘OK, if I want to make this step then this is the time, and this is the team that I want to go into.'”
Though Jumbo-Visma Women’s team may not have the badge of WorldTour status just yet, it boasts a long history and meteoric rise in the men’s sport, capped by a 2020 that saw wins through grand tours, monuments, and stage races.
At 33 and with three world titles sitting at the top of a very deep bucket of achievements, there’s not much left for Vos to learn. However, with the Jumbo-Visma Women’s team operating under the same umbrella as the home of Primož Roglic, Wout van Aert, Sepp Kuss et al, Vos eyes a host of shared knowledge spanning from tech and research to training and nutrition.
As far as Vos is concerned, it’s never too late to learn as she looks to keep pace in what is becoming an increasingly competitive women’s field.
“At this level, details make a difference,” she said. “And if you can work on all of these details and if you can work with the best materials with the best people – of course, you still have to battle, and to ride your bike – but if the details are working and everything around the cycling is organized so well, then, of course, the performance will follow.”
Vos to set the trajectory for the team
Vos’ move to a fledgling squad of young untested talents makes for a leap of faith for a rider that last year scored three stage wins at the Giro Rosa and top-5s at La Course, La Flèche Wallonne, and the world championships. However, the Dutchwoman’s faith in the experienced heads in the Jumbo-Visma camp is returned in management’s belief that they can squeeze more vigor out of their veteran star.
“She was already on a super high level, and to develop her is is a challenge, but I think we have so much experience and knowledge in this team that there wasn’t before in a woman’s team,” said team manager Esra Tromp, who formerly sat at the wheel of Parkhotel Valkenberg. “All the knowledge in this team about training about nutrition, about developing yourself as a rider and as a person can make Marianne improve herself even more.”
Jumbo-Visma’s women’s team wasn’t able to register for WorldTour status in its debut season due to UCI regulations, but it has the ambitions and know-how to step up as soon as next year.
Team director Richard Plugge admitted those at the top of the organization will need to familiarize themselves with the cadence of women’s racing, but thereafter, the sky’s the limit as he looks to mimic the achievements of Roglič, van Aert and Co. with the women’s squad.
“We started on the level that we did four years ago with the WorldTour teams,” he said. “We’ll just start and learn because it’s a different world in a way, we don’t know anything about it – Esra and the others do of course, but we have to learn some things. We’ll take our time – and let’s say in three years’ time we want to be where we are with the men’s team.”
With ever-ambitious Vos eyeing an ambitious schedule for 2021, Plugge may find his new project dragged upward behind the draft of its central talisman faster than anticipated.
“Sports on this level is a whole learning experience, you have to keep on going otherwise others will pass – you have to keep up,” Vos said. “There is still a lot to learn and with the experience of Jumbo-Visma there’s so much knowledge that it’s exciting to be part of that.”
If Jumbo-Visma can improve and enhance Vos in the way she anticipates, then Plugge, Tromp, and her young new team will be coming along for the ride, whether they plan to or not.