Marianne Vos filled a rare void in her stellar palmares by taking her first-ever win at Gent-Wevelgem. It was also the first-ever victory for her new women's team Jumbo-Visma, and she said she felt the pressure to win after learning that her teammate Wout van Aert won the men's race earlier on Sunday.
The Jumbo-Visma leader also moved into the overall lead of the Women's WorldTour and brings confidence into next weekend's Tour of Flanders.
"It is great to take this victory into the coming week, but that will be a different story in the Tour of Flanders," said Vos."You have to be there, if it went well today, that doesn’t mean it will go well next week, too, but it gives a lot of courage."
Vos won Gent-Wevelgem as she was fastest to the line in the sprint of a reduced peloton, beating Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) and Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT).
"I like to race in Flanders, you always have to be at the front, and certainly in a race like Gent-Wevelgem everything can happen. And then in a finish like today, well, you have to be there, and the team did a fantastic work to get me into that position. Then it was still about timing. I started my sprint and thought, oh, it is still a long way, but [the wind] was to my advantage."
Vos has signed a three-year deal to lead the new women's team Jumbo-Visma through the end of 2023. She is now in her sixteenth year of a spectacular career that has seen her become one of the most recognisable athletes in professional cycling history. She's a 12-time world champion, two-time Olympic gold medallist, and has secured hundreds of other victories.
This season, she will target on Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Olympic Games and the Road World Championships. And she is off to a good start with 7th at Strade Bianche, 3rd at GP Oetingen, and 2nd at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, before taking the win at Gent-Wevelgem.
She opted to skip the Classic Brugge-De Panne on Thursday, and so might have come into Gent-Wevelgem a little fresher than her rivals, who battled the strong crosswinds for 158km along the North Sea in De Panne.
"I feel good and had a good preparation for the season," Vos said. "It is nice to go into a race with confidence, but still everything has to fall into place, and it is great that it worked out at Get-Wevelgem. It gives confidence for the next weeks, but first I want to enjoy this win."
Jumbo-Visma made it two from two in Belgium as Vos triumphed in the sprint finish to win the women's Gent-Wevelgem and her teammate Van Aert won the men's Gent-Wevelgem earlier in the day.
"We got the information during our race [that Wout van Aert won the men's race], and it gave us some pressure," Vos laughed. "No, it is very nice, a great day for our team."
Vos' victory at Gent-Wevelgem moves her up into the lead of the Women's WorldTour, a series she won in the 2019 season. "It wasn't the big goal of today, but of course it's a nice bonus," she said.
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