Last year Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) was in the unusual position of providing event commentary instead of racing her bike at the Aviva Women's Tour. This year, the former overall champion is looking forward to getting back in the race, which kicks off on Wednesday.
"I will be at the Aviva Women's Tour," Vos told Cyclingnews. "I did it two years ago and I liked it. It was well organised, a big race and a good crowd. That was the first time, and I will come back after doing commentary last year, so it is going to be nice to be back racing, instead of holding a microphone in my hand. I'm pretty happy about that."
Vos won the inaugural edition of the Women's Tour in 2014, when it was sponsored by Friends Life and ranked as a 2.1 event. After placing on the podium in the first two stages, she won the third stage in Clacton and moved into the overall lead. She won stage 4 and extended her lead, and won stage 5 to seal the overall victory.
Last year, she struggled with injury and over training, and instead of racing joined ITV4's Ned Boulting to present the daily coverage of the Aviva Women's Tour.
This year, the race is stacked with a world-class field including world champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), Jolien D'hoore (Wiggle High5), Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products), Shelley Olds (Cylance), Carmen Small (Cervelo Bigla), Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS), Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) and Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur) – a tough field to beat.
Following the Aviva Women's Tour, Vos will travel home to the Netherlands to participate in the road championships, which is one of her priorities this year.
"We will have the national championships, which is pretty big in Holland if you can wear the red, white and blue," Vos told Cyclingnews. "That's a big honour. With the team we will go for that title."
She is a former three-time winner of the Giro Rosa, a race that kicks off in July. However, she has decided not to tackle the 10-day race this year for fear of being over tired ahead of her bid to defend her title at the Olympic Games in Rio in August. Rabo-Liv's Anna van der Breggen won the overall title last year and the team will return to defend that crown.
"My team will go to the Giro Rosa but I won't race this year," Vos said. "I prefer to do a training camp in that period and try to get ready for the Olympic Games."
Riders are generally split on whether the Giro Rosa would help or hinder their Olympic endeavours. Vos said she too was unsure of whether to race the WorldTour event, and that there are strong arguments for both ahead of Rio.
"I've had my own discussion with myself and with the team on what would be the best preparation," Vos told Cyclingnews. "I love the Giro Rosa, it's a fantastic race. It's the biggest stage race and I love to race in Italy. But it's 10 days and it could go well and you could gain fitness or you could be totally worn out. There are four weeks to the Olympics but you would have to rest and you don't have time left to train.
"Rio is really hard and the Giro has some stages that are similar to the Rio course. So, you could use the Giro to get better and stronger for Rio. The Giro will improve shape and condition and make you fit, if you are able to stay healthy during the race.
"Either arguments are strong. It's just what each rider prefers."
Instead, Vos will head to Italy and train in the mountains but she said she will not attempt altitude training as it has not helped her in year's past.
"I'll go on my own to training camp, go to the hills somewhere in Italy and find some nice mountains," Vos said. "No altitude because I have not responded well to altitude in the past and I don't want to take the risk to go to altitude now before Rio.
"It will a good training block and the last preparation for Rio."
Join us for Women's Week on Cyclingnews from June 13-19, and check out the latest race results, news, features, blogs, tech and videos from the women's peloton on our brand new Cyclingnews women's page.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and 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 men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.