After taking a year off to recover from injury and fatigue, Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) proved that she is back at the top of her game when she won the new UCI race Pajot Hills Classic Wednesday. It was her first road race victory since September of 2014.
"It was a top performance by Marianne,” said Rabo Liv team manager Sierk-Jan de Haan. “She is further along than we thought. And the team deserves a compliment. We were clearly the best team today.”
Vos, a multiple time road and cyclo-cross world champion, was forced to take a break last year due to a hamstring injury that she sustained at the Dutch national cyclo-cross championships at the beginning of January 2015. Although she raced a couple of times last spring, Rabo Liv announced last June that she had written off her 2015 goals.
Vos later described her health problems as a tired feeling, a sign of over-training but stated that she would return in 2016 with an eye on the Olympic Games in Rio.
She only announced her official comeback to racing two weeks ago where she raced Drentse Acht van Westerveld and placed tenth.
Although the odds are almost always in favour of a rider with a palmares as rich as Vos’, the Pajot Hills Classic presented a challenging parcours with an uphill finish and a high-level field.
Vos is known for her multitalented ability on the bike and just as well for her smart tactics. And so it was a combination of her surprise and powerful attack, which was initially meant to lead out teammate Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, over the short climb to the finish line that left the front runners unable to respond to the winning move.
Vos crossed the line ahead of runner-up Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) and third placed Lotta Lepisto (Cervelo Bigla).
"Marianne surprised herself with her last punch," Sierk-Jan de Haan said in a team press release.
"They did not expect this at all. They would start the sprint uphill for Pauline. They did. Marianne dropped [the riders] from afar, but Pauline could not get [around her] the neither could the other riders. The difference was big for a sprint.”