While sports fans watch and wait in anticipation to see if Mark Cavendish will equal Eddy Merckx’s record 34 stage wins at the Tour de France, over the border in Italy, another cycling icon, Marianne Vos, has notched up a remarkable 30th career stage victory on stage 7 at the Giro d’Italia Donne.
Vos is racing her 16th season in the professional peloton and has been one of the best riders in the world for well over a decade, with 12 world championship titles across three disciplines - road, cyclo-cross and track - along with two gold medals in road and track racing at the Olympic Games.
Vos has also won three overall titles at the Giro d'Italia Donne - 2011, 2012 and 2014 - and holds the record for stage victories, an account to which she continues to add with a remarkable 30th career win in Puegnago del Garda on Thursday.
Vos' ability to sprint, climb, breakaway and time trial makes her one of the most captivating riders of all time, and when it comes to the Giro d'Italia Donne - she has done it all.
1. July 8, 2007: Stage 2
Correggio to Correggio, 125.7km
Wearing the rainbow bands of what was her first elite road race world championship jersey, Vos was racing for DSB Bank and won her first stage of the Giro d'Italia Donne, stage 2, from a reduced bunch sprint to beat Diana Ziliute (Safi-Pasta Zara) and Oenone Wood (T-Mobile).
It was her debut at the Italian stage race but the world already knew that she was capable of such success.
2. July 6, 2010: Stage 5
Orta San Giulio to Pettenasco, 122km
After missing the Giro d’Italia Donne for two seasons, Vos returned to the event with Nederland Bloeit in 2010 to secure back-to-back stage wins, beginning with the mountainous stage 5 in what was a solo win in Pettenasco by one second over Tatiana Guderzo (Valdarno Umbria) and eight seconds ahead of Judith Arndt (Columbia Women).
It was an important victory that saw Vos break Ina Teutenberg's winning streak and take the overall race lead.
3. July 7, 2010: Stage 6
Gallarate to Arcisate, 116.7km
The next day, Vos took her second stage win of the 2010 Giro d’Italia Donne on stage 6 in Arcisate, this time winning a three-up sprint ahead of Judith Arndt (Columbia Women) and Olga Zabelinskaya (Safi-Pasta Zara) to keep her overall lead.
"I am very happy for the victory today, although I think the next stages of the Giro will certainly be decisive. There are still a lot of riders in contention, and it is a very open Giro," Vos said.
4. July 1, 2011: Stage 1
Roma to Velletri, 81.7km
Vos stamped her authority on the 2011 Giro Donne, winning the opening stage from Roma to Velletri and pulling on the first leader’s jersey. She flew up the cobbled finishing straight and won by several metres ahead of Ina Teutenberg (HTC-HighRoad Women), Emma Johansson (Hitec Products-UCK) and Elizabeth Armitstead [Deignan] (Garmin-Cervelo).
“The finish of the stage suited me and my form is great. My Giro couldn’t have started better and now I hope to keep the race leader’s jersey for as long as possible," Vos said.
5. July 3, 2011: Stage 3
Potenza Piceana to Fermo, 104.3km
Another solo victory saw Vos win a punchy stage 3 into Fermo by 19 seconds ahead of Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo). Judith Arndt (HTC HighRoad) finished 2:50 back in third place. The win was all the more sweet because Vos took back the maglia rosa lost during the previous day's stage 2.
"It was a very difficult stage, especially in the final part. I'm really pleased to have regained the pink jersey. I hope to keep it for as long as possible, but I will take it day by day," said Vos.
6. July 6, 2011: Stage 6
Fontanellato to Piacenza, 128km
Showing her versatility, Vos won the bunch sprint to take the stage 6 win ahead of Giorgia Bronzini (Diadora-Pasta Zara) and Ina Teutenberg (HTC-HighRoad) in Piacenza. She continued her domination of the race, winning her third stage of the event while wearing the maglia rosa of race leader.
7. July 7, 2011: Stage 7
Rovato to Grosotto, 127.5km
Vos took her seventh career stage win at the Giro d’Italia Donne in a solo victory into Grosotto. She took a solo victory on a stage which tackled the feared Passo Mortirolo ascent. She crossed the line 1:13 ahead of Tatiana Guderzo (Mcipollini-Giordana) and an additional eight seconds ahead of Lucinda Brand (AA Drink-Loentien).
"The pink jersey provides a special emotion," said Vos. "And today it was this jersey which gave me the strength to win."
8. July 9, 2011: Stage 9
Aglie to Ceresole Reale, 114.8km
Unbreakable Vos! She capped off an incredible performance with a stage 9 win in Ceresole Reale, her fifth stage win in nine days. She crossed the line 12 seconds ahead of Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo) and 22 seconds ahead of Judith Arndt (HTC-HighRoad).
The next day, after finishing third in the closing time trial in San Francesco Al Campo, Vos won her first of three overall titles at the Giro d’Italia Donne.
9. June 29, 2012: Stage 1
Napoli to Terracina, 139.1km
Picking up right where she left off, Vos winning stage 1 and pulling on the first leader’s jersey at the 2012 Giro d’Italia Donne. This time under the colours of Rabobank, Vos sprinted to victory ahead of Shelley Olds (AA Drink-Leontien) and Giorgia Bronzini (Diadora-Pasta Zara) in Terracina.
10. June 30, 2012: Stage 2
Rome to Rome, 7.2km (ITT)
Wearing the maglia rosa after winning stage 1, Vos stormed to victory in the short 7.2km time trial beating discipline specialists Clara Hughes (Specialized-lululemon) by five seconds and Judith Arndt (Orica-AIS) by 12 seconds in Rome.
11. July 2, 2012: Stage 4
Montecatini Terme to Montecatini Alto, 98km
After winning the bunch sprint and the time trial, Vos went on to win stage 4 on the summit of Montecatini Alto crossing the line 1:26 ahead of Emma Johansson (Hitec Products) and 1:33 ahead of Tatiana Guderzo (Mcipollini-Giambenini) to regain her lead in the overall classification.
12. July 5, 2012: Stage 7
Voghera to Castagnola delle Lanze, 129.1km
Vos formed part of a small front group the sprinted to the line in Castagnola delle Lanze where she won stage 7 ahead of Emma Johansson (Hitec-Products) and Fabiana Luperini (Faren-Honda).
13. July 6, 2012: Stage 8
Mornago to Lonate Pozzolo, 116.2km
A three-rider breakaway sprinted for the stage 8 win in Lonate Pozzolo with Vos took the victory ahead of Judith Arndt (Orica-AIS) and Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon).
The nine-day race concluded in Bergamo the next day where Vos won the points classification and her second overall title at the Giro d’Italia Donne.
14. July 2, 2013: Stage 3
Cerro al Volturno to Cerro al Volturno, 93.6km
Vos retained her overall classification lead following a solo stage 3 victory by 45 seconds ahead of Claudia Lichtenberg (Tibco-To The Top) and Tatiana Guderzo (Mcipollini-Giordana) at Cerro al Volturno.
15. July 3, 2013: Stage 4
Monte San Vito to Castelfidardo, 137.2km
Vos maintained her overall lead following stage 4 where she won by three seconds ahead of Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) and Ashleigh Moolman (Lotto Belisol Ladies) in Castelfidardo.
16. July 6, 2013: Stage 7
Corbetta to Corbetta, 120km
Vos took her third and last victory of the 2013 Giro d’Italia Donne on stage 7 from a bunch sprint ahead of Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) and Shelley Olds (Tibco-To The Top) in Corbetta. She finished sixth overall and won the points classification jersey.
17. July 5, 2014: Stage 1
S. Maria a Vico to S. Maria a Vico, 95.2km
After her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten won the prologue, Vos opened her account with a stage 1 victory to take the maglia rosa during the 2014 Giro d’Italia Donne. This time she took a solo win by four seconds ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) and five seconds ahead of her Rabobank teammate Pauline Ferrand-Prévot in S. Maria a Vico.
18. July 8, 2014: Stage 4
Alba Adriatica to Jesi, 118km
Photo finish! Vos increased her lead in the overall classification after winning stage 4 ahead of Shelley Olds (Ale Cipollini) and her Rabobank teammate Lucinda Brand in Jesi.
"The photo finish had to decide," Vos told Cyclingnews. "Initially it seemed to be Lucinda but I eventually won by milimeters. These victories (it was Rabo-Liv's fourth) make for a good atmosphere in the team."
19. July 9, 2014: Stage 5
Jesi to Cesenatico, 118.3km
Vos won the stage 5 at the 2014 Giro d'Italia Donne in what was the third stage win for the Rabo-Liv champion in the Italian stage race. She edged Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) and Shelley Olds (Alé-Cipollini) and on the line in Cesenatico. She also kept the pink jersey.
20. July 11, 2014: Stage 7
Aprica to Chiavenna, 91.8km
Vos won her fourth stage that year on stage 7 from a bunch sprint a head of Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) and Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS).
Although she lost some time over the final two stages, she secured her third overall title upon the conclusion of stage 9 at Madonna del Ghisallo ahead of her two Rabobank teammates Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Anna van der Breggen.
21. July 13, 2018: Stage 8
San Giorgio di Perlena to Breganze, 121.6km
Vos took a nearly two-year hiatus from the sport citing burnout and injury, and after a three-year absence from the GIro d’Itaila Donne, she returned in 2018 under the Waowdeals banner and won stage 8 into Breganze. Vos, the European Champion at the time, was part of a breakaway that got away in the technical descent after the final climb of the day and reached the finish line where she outsprinted Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb).
22. July 6, 2019: Stage 2
Viù to Viù, 76.3km
Many regard 2019 as one of Vos’ strongest seasons since returning from a hiatus in 2016. At the Giro d’Italia Donne while racing for CCC-Liv, Vos won her first if four stages during stage 2 into Viu where she proved to be faster on the uphill finish than Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb).
23. July 7, 2019: Stage 3
Sagliano Micca to Piedicavallo, 104.1km
Vos won her second stage on an uphill finish in Piedicavallo were she caught and passed breakaway rider Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) on the line. Kennedy, who had celebrated victory too soon, settled for second while Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Bigla) finished third.
"When I launched the sprint, I actually thought it was going to be too late," said Vos after the stage. "It was still such a big gap to Lucy. But then we entered those final steep 100 metres on the cobbles, and when Lucy put her arm in the air, I just had more speed and came around. It was crazy, and heartbreaking for Lucy.”
24. July 11, 2019: Stage 7
Cornedo Vicentino to San Giorgio di Perlena/Fara Vicentino, 131.5km
Vos was fastest on the uphill finish of stage 7 in Fara Vicentino after a nervous hilly stage with lots of attacks. Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) finished second ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo).
"I had to really dig deep today," said Vos after the stage. "It was a beautiful stage, hard from the beginning, with constant attacks in the final. I tried to cruise with some of them, and then on the last climb, I just tried to do the right things. I made the right move, and actually couldn't believe I had it."
25. July 14, 2019: Stage 10
San Vito al Tagliamento to Udine, 120km
Vos closed out a successful 2019 Giro d’Italia Donne with a stage 10 win on the cobbled roads of Udine where she finished one second ahead of Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) and Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal).
26. September 13, 2020: Stage 3
Santa Fiora to Assisi, 138km
The 2020 Giro d’Italia Donne was held in the autumn as part of the late-season revised calendar. Stage 3 finished with a short but punishingly steep climb into Assisi. After the peloton entered the final kilometre together, a group of six riders dropped the rest on the 15 per cent slopes.
In the end, Vos was the strongest, beating Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) to the line and taking her 26th Giro Donne stage win.
27. September 15, 2020: Stage 5
Terracina to Terracina, 110.3km
Vos added a second stage win to the 2020 edition of the Giro d'Italia Donne in Terracina.
She artfully negotiated a tricky run into the line on stage 5 to take the victory, winning the sprint ahead of Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal) and Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo).
“I had good memories already here and I have to say it was not an easy stage with the climb and we tried to make it hard,” said Vos. “My teammates did a really hard pace on the climb to split the field … and I am very happy to finish it off.”
28 - September 16, 2020: Stage 6
Torre del Greco to Nola, 87.8km
Vos took her third victory the following day on the streets of Nola where she won another sprint ahead of Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) and Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal).
Her CCC-Liv team chased a solo attack by Maria Novolodskaya (Cogeas Mettler Look). The 21-year-old Russian still had a sizable advantage with 4km to go but then crashed on the run-in to the finish, putting an end to her hopes of victory.
29. July 4, 2021: Stage 3
Casale Monferrato to Ovada, 135km
Under her new Jumbo-Visma colours, Vos’ secured her 29th career stage win at the 2021 Giro d’Italia Donne on the streets of Ovada where she beat Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo), Liane Lippert (Team DSM) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) in a breakaway sprint.
Vos pointed a finger to the sky when she crossed the line in dedication to cyclo-cross rider Jolien Verschueren who had passed away two days earlier.
“Of course, it is incredible to win 29 times, when you still can do your passion and do what you love. It is so strange to lose Jolien Verschueren this week due to cancer," Vos said.
"We are here and we think we suffer, but there is so much more in life. I thought about her, and that gave me extra power, I knew how dedicated she was, and I wanted to do a special race for her."
30. July 8, 2021: Stage 7
Sporazocco di Gacardo to Puegnago del Garda, 109.6km
Vos won stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia Donne at Puegnago del Garda. On the final climb of a punchy circuit, the Dutch star followed the acceleration of Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) with one kilometre to go and then launched her own sprint with 200 metres to go to take what was her 30th career victory at the Giro d'Italia Donne. Anna van der Breggen crossed the line in third place at Puegnago del Garda.
“It is an incredible number, but it is not really something I was thinking of. You know, every day is a new day in the Giro, and every day you have to be ready to focus, to fight and to get there," Vos said.
Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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