Marianne Vos went all-in for the cyclo-cross season, but her results on the road so far suggest he has made a near-perfect transition, with her main spring objectives just around the corner in the cobbled and Ardennes Classics.
Vos, who was third at UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in February, finished 7th at Strade Bianche and 11th at Ronde Van Drenthe before winning the Trofeo Alfredo Binda last weekend.
She finished 10th in the bunch sprint at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, and is full of confidence heading into Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday and the Tour of Flanders a week later.
"It's nice to take good result. I already felt good in the weeks before, training and then Strade and Drenthe but, of course, a win boosts the confidence," Vos told Cyclingnews in Bruges.
"Binda is a different style of racing than these weeks – more uphill and less cobbles – so it doesn't say everything, but it says something, so I'm very happy about that. And the team did well so that’s good motivation for the next weeks."
Vos took only a short break after a winter almost full of cyclo-cross, either side of the New Year. Having seemingly returned to her old self in the back end of 2018 – following struggles with injury, illness, and general burn-out – she made the ambitious plan to focus on cyclo-cross Worlds, followed by a road campaign with goals in the spring and later in the year, notably the World Championships in Yorkshire.
"That was the plan, but you have to see how it works out," she said. "I felt good in training after the cyclo-cross season. I already had some miles in over the winter, so there was already some work put in. I took a small break and then for the last month it has been a block of base training and then the last weeks more intensity and good preparation for the races."
Her sprint at Binda, at the end of an attacking and exacting race, was proof that her overall condition is where it needs to be.
"The sprint itself was of course good but I think it mostly meant I was still fresh in the final. That's a different sprint to a normal one with all the sprinters. You have had a hard race and it's about how fresh you are through the final corner."
Tour of Flanders a main goal
Vos will race the Tour of Flanders next weekend, describing it as her main personal goal this spring. She won it in 2013 but has only lined up again once since then.
"I've had some not so ideal preparation in the spring over the last years. It's not that I've skipped it because I didn't like it, but because I just was not ready," she said.
"I hope to be ready this time. It's a big race for me."
After Flanders, Vos will turn her attentions to the Ardennes, combining both the cobbled Classics in northern Belgium and the hillier Classics in the south of the country for the second year in a row.
Though she will skip Flèche Wallonne again – where she has won five times – she will race both Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. She finished 10th at the former and her Binda result suggested she could be a factor again.
"I do the Flemish and the Walloon Classics. They're all races I like, and I think it's possible to do the combination. Every time it's a little transition from cobbles to hills, but that's OK.
"I'm not sure if I'm climbing well enough for the Ardennes. I at least hope to be there and be an addition to the team. I don't know yet, but it gives me some confidence to have done well in Binda."