It has been 22 long months since Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) has been able to take to the podium as the leader of a race. Once the all-conquering queen of cycling, it is hard to imagine that it was August 2014 that she last made that visit. However, with another top finish, she ended the wait on stage 2 of the Aviva Women's Tour.
In an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews earlier this week, Vos said that she had suffered many doubts as she recovered from a hamstring injury that kept her out of last season. After claiming her first WorldTour stage victory at the Tour of California last month, her confidence is building quickly, but she is not counting her chickens yet when it comes to overall success at the Women's Tour.
"It's growing every race and to be here in such a top-class field and wearing the jersey ... it's a good feeling. I can be happy, but we're still only on the second day of this race so, for now, we will take it day by day," Vos said after making two visits to the podium, once for the yellow jersey and another as the leader of the points classification.
"It's nice to be in the yellow jersey, and that gives me some confidence and some motivation for the next days. I'll definitely try, but there are some good competitors trying to aim for the jersey."
The second day of racing was always going to be a hard one for the peloton with 140 kilometres of racing, but heavy rain made it that much harder. It was a tentative affair for much of the day before a decisive split occurred with less than 30 kilometres remaining. Vos made the cut along with 25 other riders as they chased down two escapees.
"It was pretty tough," Vos said of the day's racing. "There were some steep ramps. They weren't long, but they were pretty steep and on the climbs the attacks didn't really go through because it was so steep. Then you saw the riders in the looking at each other wondering who was going to push through but in the end I think that we had a good group."
It obviously wasn't quite tough enough for Vos, who sprinted back to her team bus as the rain continued to pour down. She'll want to save some energy for the days to come with Friday's stage 3 set to be the toughest one of the race. In the previous two editions, the race has often come down to sprint finishes, but Vos expects that it will be a difference story in the days to come.
"I think that's why the organisers went this way and put on some more hills. Today we had some more hills but from tomorrow on the longer climbs come in. We will see, but I definitely think that it will split up the field," said Vos.
"If you look at the profiles of the stages to come they look pretty tough. Today was not as hard as the up and coming days and today we were already feeling it in the legs. I think that tomorrow is going to be even more aggressive and active."
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