Marianne Voss still sometimes feels like a newbie at the age of thirty-five

Marianne Voss still sometimes feels like a newbie at the age of thirty-five

Marianne Vos hands an autograph to Steve, a Jumbo-Visma fan, before the start of the Amstel Gold Race.Image Klaas Jan van der Weij / de Volkskrant

Amidst a sneaky drizzle, Marianne Voss (35) places her bike on the 15th row of the cyclist awaiting the start of Sunday morning’s Amstel Gold race in Frithof in Maastricht. She just admitted on stage that even with her fifth engagement she still finds it a bit sexy, that twist-and-turn in South Limburg. “Racing feels like a fairground ride where you’re not stuck in your wagon.”

There is no doubt that she has a weak point in this cycle. In 2021, she won by defeating Demi Fullering in a long race after Cauberg, and at the same place she became world champion in 2012 by breaking away from a leading group. There is still something special, racing on hills, in one of the few really big road races in the Netherlands. I have warm memories of her. But it’s not the feelings that are running through your head today. “You start over. Other teams, other relationships.

Marianne Voss in action during the Amstel Gold Race.  Image Pro Shots / Georges Deswig

Marianne Voss in action during the Amstel Gold Race.Image Pro Shots / Georges Deswig

On the rainy Vrijthof Road, world champion Annemiek van Vleuten hits the brakes behind her. They exchange ideas in a relaxed way. Race director Leo Van Fleet squeezes in between the other two riders and they both kiss on the cheek. The organization then directed the two forward. A place in the middle of the group doesn’t do them justice. Women’s cycling icons belong in the front row. Vos’ captain, American Carmen Small, had already told the Jumbo-Visma bus that she never rules out a pretty thing. “Watch Marianne!”

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Pelvic artery stenosis

For the outsider, after an operation in February on a narrowed pelvic artery — the same one she had already operated on in 2020 — the Brabant woman returned surprisingly quickly. At the end of last month there was a third place in Dwars Door Vlaanderen. Last week in Paris-Roubaix, she was chasing for a long time after a fall and a flat tyre. In the ring, she was still in the group, which entered 12 seconds after the winner, Allison Jackson. She wasn’t surprised. The treatment was not as drastic as the diagnosis suggested: catheterization was sufficient. Recovery took less time. The hope was to return soon. I’m glad I was able to get involved again right away. ”

With her age and unbeatable honors list, she’s an old hand in the team, where young talent also gets opportunities. But it will not allow it to be labeled as tagged like that. “Yeah, some people sometimes come to me with questions, about coaching, about tactical choices in matches, when quick decisions have to be made. If they want to take something from me, well, please. But it’s about keeping each other sharp. And yeah, you learn too.” Something of the next generation. I don’t have a monopoly on wisdom. A lot has changed: in training, technology, nutrition, preparation. I often feel like a beginner too.”

“It is never: me”

According to Sports Director Small, Vos is very valuable to the team. “It’s her experience, her knowledge, her attitude. She’s humble. It’s never me. It’s always: us. We do it together. The little knights look up to her and listen to her. She inspires. I know she doesn’t want to be a mentor, but she is.”

Suddenly, as the first Limburg Hills came into view, Voss found himself in a leading group of nine. The trip does not last long. It was never intended to be offensive at all, she says later. Lucinda Brand continued to descend. There was a hole behind it. It is too early to continue.

From that moment on, she was largely holed up in the gradually thinning peloton, perhaps already contemplating a final sprint. But in the final phase, she disappears backwards as the group falls apart, mainly because of a rush by SD Worx. The fact that this team referees almost all matches does not lead to jealousy or frustration for her. It is a very powerful team that has different pawns and can also finish it off in different ways. Perhaps it would be more entertaining for the audience if there was more variety, but they’re not entirely invulnerable either. All competitors have to do is try to match their strength and class. It’s also hard to start out as a favorite every time. I have all the credit for that.

After the finish, with Vollering and Lotte Kopecky, both from SD Worx, as numbers one and two, Vos stands with a muddy face next to her teammates Riejanne Markus and Anna Henderson. She finished seventeenth, half a minute behind the winner. With trembling fingers, she tries in vain to loosen the straps of her helmet. it was hot. The group exploded in Coburg and then my legs exploded. She quickly puts on a jacket and continues cycling to the bathroom on the team bus. It wasn’t long before the others followed, following their teacher.

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