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Marianne Vos: It's very special to wear the yellow jersey

Marianne Vos in the Tour de France Femmes yellow jersey
Marianne Vos in the Tour de France Femmes yellow jersey (Image credit: Getty Images)

Marianne Vos spent many summers as a child travelling to the Tour de France with her family, driving up l'Alpe d'Huez, and many other iconic mountain passes, to watch the men competing for three gruelling weeks in their pursuit of the yellow jersey.

She never dreamed that one day she would be wearing it herself - there wasn't a race for women.

The doors have opened for professional women at the marquee sporting event that, for the first time in 33 years, has welcomed 144 world-class women to compete at the rebirth of the women's Tour de France.

Vos is racing with her Jumbo-Visma team where to goal has been to win stages. She achieved that goal when she powered up the finishing straightaway to take the stage 2 victory from a small late-race breakaway in Provins.

The win also put Vos in the overall classification lead, and suddenly something that was once impossible became a reality - she donned the yellow jersey.

"Taking the win meant also taking the yellow jersey which is something special and I will suffer tomorrow, and enjoy it," Vos said.

"I went to the Tour de France as a kid to watch and I saw all the guys riding. For me, the last one in the race was as much a hero as the first one, they were all trying their best every day and racing for three weeks.

"At that time, there was no Tour de France for women so having the yellow jersey wasn't even a dream. Now that it's here, it's big, and it will be very special to wear the yellow jersey and it will be very special to wear it in the race."

Family matters and milestones

Tour de France leader Marianne Vos with parents Henk and Connie after stage 2

Tour de France leader Marianne Vos with parents Henk and Connie after stage 2 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Vos crossed the uphill finish line in Provins and collapsed onto bales of hay set of as roadside barriers. It was hot and she was gasping for air, which was in short supply after her monstrous effort, and because she quickly found herself surrounded by cameras, microphones, and press, all eagerly waiting for a reaction to her success.

Bursting through the mixed zone of journalists were her parents, Henk and Conny, and bother, Anton, reaching to throw their arms around her and to celebrate another milestone in a 16-year career full of them.

"It's special to share a moment with people close to you," Vos said of her family's devotion to her career. "I also know that even when my girlfriend is not here, she is supporting me. My dad and my parents are always, if not at the race, also with me in the heart. It's also cool that they were here at the finish line to enjoy and celebrate with me."

Vos says this was the second milestone relevant to the women's Tour de France that she has experienced, the first was winning the inaugural La Course in 2014 - an event that many see as the stepping-stone to the Tour de France Femmes.

"Nine years ago we were talking to ASO about an opportunity to get a race. It went really fast to get La Course going," Vos said. "When we raced the first time on the Champs-Élysées it was a milestone. Now, to be back for a stage race, a real Tour de France, where all the emotion of a stage race, is another milestone."

Vos has rarely, if ever, discussed her retirement but at 36 years old, she is now fielding questions about her longevity in pro cycling.

She has been described as a G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) for a 16-year career that has taken us on a journey of 13 multi-discipline world championship titles, two gold medals at the Olympic Games, and a remarkable 32 career stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, and so much more - and now the yellow jersey.

"They say that age is just a number. I feel good and I try to be at my best when I can. The most important thing is to enjoy and be able to ride your bike every day. Health is very important, but as long as I'm healthy and enjoying, then racing with this team, we are very motivated to work for each other for a victory. I'm motivated to keep working and to get the best out of myself," Vos said.

"Age isn't playing a role, except of course, that my experience might help me. It doesn't mean I never make a mistake. I keep learning."

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