Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Marianne Vos and her Dutch compatriots are aiming for the nation’s seventh road race world title in 10 years when they line up in Bruges later this month.
Vos has won three world titles during her illustrious career — only Jeannie Longo (five) and Yvonne Reynders (four) have won more — and she has another five silver medals to her name.
She won’t be the only former world champion in the Dutch team, with Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, defending champion Anna van der Breggen, and Annemiek van Vleuten also wearers of the rainbow jersey in the last decade.
As they did at the Olympic Games, the Dutch go into the worlds with several potential winners — with Demi Vollering also among the eight to start. The Olympics showed that the Dutch team is not infallible, and Vos says they should be ready for absolutely anything to happen.
“I think it’s very interesting and it has a little bit of everything. It makes it also very complex because there will be a lot of different scenarios possible,” Vos told VeloNews in a call. “I think it’s pretty cool. It’s really cool to have this race, but it’s also very difficult to predict.”
When VeloNews spoke to Vos, she was on her way to celebrate her mother’s birthday. It was a small moment of downtime, and a touch of reality, between the traveling circus of the peloton.
“Sometimes you just have to take the opportunity. I think especially between these big races, and we have now big goals, it’s important for us to have some decompression. It’s good to have this balance.”
Vos had not long returned from a triumphant appearance at the Simac Ladies Tour, where she won three stages and the overall classification. The short break was a rare chance for family time before a series of major races, including the European road champs and the world road champs, where she will be among the favorites for glory.
The undulating parcours for the Flanders worlds will provide a variety of potential outcomes and Vos says that each section, from the initial lead in, to the hilly circuit, to the city center ride, will present its own unique challenges.
“I think it’s in three different parts. You have the run into Leuven, and then the Flandrian lap, and then back into Leuven to go through the city. It has a fast and technical part and maybe if the wind plays a part, it can be also interesting for the race. Then there is the question of what will happen when you ride back towards Leuven, and the technical part in the city will also be pretty difficult. So yeah, I think it’s an interesting course.”
Following the worlds in Flanders, much of the women’s peloton will be heading to France for the first-ever women’s Paris-Roubaix. The race was initially on the rescheduled 2020 calendar but didn’t happen after organizers were forced to cancel it and the men’s event due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The women’s peloton would have to wait another six months to make history after further COVID-19 restrictions caused it to be postponed. With just under a month until it’s due to happen, Vos and her competitors will be crossing everything that there isn’t another delay.
With her skills as a cyclo-cross rider and a fast finisher, Vos will be well placed to contest the win in the Roubaix velodrome. She is really looking forward to testing herself out on the parcours, but she knows it will be as tough as it is fun to ride.
“It’s nice to have Paris-Roubaix on the calendar. We’ve had so many races added to the calendar over the last years,” Vos said. “I think that Paris-Roubaix is going to be very, very hard. I already know it is going to be a love and hate race because it will be painful, but it’s nice to have this on the calendar. I think a lot of riders are, are looking forward to it.
“It’s an interesting race and as a cyclo-cross rider, you get some extra vibe. It’s also difficult to predict because we don’t have these kinds of races. It is such a specialistic race that is pretty hard to say who is going to do very well, at the end of the season, especially. Now, we’re going see, and it will be definitely a very tough and also beautiful race.”