Since the start of the UCI Women's WorldTour, one notable name has been missing from the top of the leader board - that of multiple world champion and defending Olympic gold medalist Marianne Vos. That changed on Saturday in the Women's Tour of California, when Vos took out the stage win in Santa Rosa with a turn of speed reminiscent of her dominant form of old.
Vos is on her comeback season after taking most of 2015 off after injuries and overtraining led to a bit of burnout. Although she's won a few UCI 1.2 races, her best performance so far in the WorldTour was a ninth place in La Flèche Wallonne.
"It's a big race and it's good to be here, and to take a stage is fantastic. The WorldTour is new and for me it's the first WorldTour win," Vos said after taking out a close sprint win from Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) in Santa Rosa on stage 3.
The 111km stage that headed out from Santa Rosa over the mountains to the coast and back looked like it would be contested by a small group of favourites including race leader Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) on the second climb up Coleman Valley Road. Rabo-Liv missed the move and faced a 90 second deficit on the run-in back to town.
Vos said she thought that there wouln't be any chance for a stage win at one point during the stage. "But when I saw my teammate Shara Gillow and together when we came over the climb we wanted to start to chase and see how far we could get, maybe catch the leaders," she said.
Gillow put in a massive effort as the road levelled out, and reeled the breakaway back in before the finishing circuits. Vos then took the sprint into her own hands, and Rivera and third placed Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) could only watch as she powered away to victory.
"This final sprint, especially with the headwind, would suit me but still you don't know how your legs are after such a hard stage," Vos said. "It was a fast, fast road in and all the American teams definitely wanted to go for the sprint as well with some fast riders."