It has been a tough year for Marianne Vos but finally the Dutch rider can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After spending the entire road season on the sidelines due to hamstring and back problems, she was finally given the go ahead to train last month.
Vos has since headed to South Africa with her national teammates to begin her preparations for next season. "The bike feels better and the time has flown, [there are] signs that I'm back on the right track," she wrote in her latest blog on the Rabo Liv website. "This week has made me feel more like a cyclist.
"Training camps like this are really nice," she continued. "The months of November and December are dedicated to building and so we are relaxed preparing for the new season. Beforehand I was very curious how I would be with the group and what might happen, but it's actually worked out well. I was able to cycle along with the group more than I expected. The first weeks on the bike were still a lot like work, but I notice now that I am getting better and I can sit for a few hours relaxing on the bike."
Vos, who has dominated cycling since her early years, pulled the plug on her season back in June after already missing the opening rounds of the World Cup series. She has been troubled by a back injury for some time but picked up her hamstring problems during the Dutch national cyclo-cross championships.
The Worlds would be her final event in 2015 and the recent training camp has also been her first opportunity in many months to ride with her teammates. "This week, everyone is working on their base for the road season, which means we do many long trips in low intensity. It is therefore particularly pleasing that we are in South Africa, where the weather is better than in the Netherlands and the long rides are a lot easier," she said.
"Plus, here you can do a lot more climbing than in the Netherlands, which some girls are already using for more intensive training. For me, it is too soon for the intense work, I want to absolutely prevent myself from doing too much too soon."
Vos has not yet committed to a programme for next season but is targeting her title defence at the Olympic Games in Rio.