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Vos sees Leuven circuits as 'most important' on Worlds road course

Marianne Vos of Netherlands won Amstel Gold Race in the spring
Marianne Vos of Netherlands won Amstel Gold Race in the spring (Image credit: Getty images)

The Dutch women have had a stronghold on the elite women’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships for the past 15 years, and Marianne Vos is pleased to have the gold medal glowing with an orange cast for another year. 

The team leader won the title three times between 2006-2013 and they are on a four-year winning streak for world reign - Chantal van den Broek-Blaak in Bergen in 2014, twice by Anna van der Breggen in Innsbruck in 2015 and then in Imola in 2020, and Annemiek van Vleuten in Yorkshire in 2019. All four riders will be at the start in Antwerp, joined by four others who could win their first rainbow jersey on the road for the Netherlands - newly-crowned time trial World Champion Ellen van Dijk, reigning cyclo-cross World Champion Lucinda Brand and Dutch Champion Amy Pieters, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Demi Vollering.

“Indeed we have a very strong team. It’s great to be part of the orange squad,” Vos told Cyclingnews Friday afternoon. She liked the course and thought it would make for an unpredictable outcome.

“On this course, many scenarios are possible. There are many riders who can dream of the title. Yeah, it’s possible for strong sprinters to survive. But a breakaway can survive too,” she said. “I think it’s such a wide range of possibilities - an early breakaway or a solo rider in Leuven.”

Vos confirmed the team is ready, with all the homework now done for Saturday’s 157km challenge through the Flanders region of Belgium. 

“We’ve been on the course this week, and had a proper recon yesterday [Thursday]. It’s nice to feel the vibe already. It’s been good to have the final recon and preparations,” she said. 

“Belgium is not far, but the roads are not that familiar. It’s good to see the climbs and the finish in Leuven. The circuits are very hard. It will be important to be at the front and be alert there. Especially the Leuven course, it is most important.”

Vos said her own lead up to the Worlds has gone well, taking two stages of the Giro d'Italia Donne and three in the Simac Ladies Tour. The month of September has been a time to focus on Saturday’s road race. She started but did not finish the road race at the European Championships, and has not competed in an individual time trial at Worlds since 2010.

“I feel good. My preparations have been good. It’s nice to feel the shape is there in the final week of a championship. It’s important to be as fresh as possible for the race. I’ve been watching the time trials and it’s been good to see,” Vos told Cyclingnews, after viewing the conclusion of the men’s U23 race, which was filled with crashes on the same course that will be used by the elite women Saturday.

“What made for a number of crashes in the junior and U23 men’s races were the nerves. Of course, we have concerns and we want to have a safe race. And as always, you have to have a bit of luck too.”

Vos was not too concerned with the narrow roads or various sharp climbs that lay ahead as she’s done and won many races in Belgium. She won the Tour of Flanders in 2013 and has taken victories in La Fléche Wallonne five times in addition to wins this year in the Amstel Gold Race and Gent-Wevelgem. 

The Dutch are the most solid team on the start list, and Vos does not discount a strong list of teams and individual riders who will do what they can to disrupt her team from winning a fifth consecutive rainbow jersey. 

“There are of course the Belgium hopes. Italy is always strong, Germany is always strong. Other teams may not have the numbers, but they have individuals who are strong.

“For the end, it’s in our favour if the race is hard. The final is very hard, and if there is a smaller group, we can use our numbers.”

Numbers do matter in the race. Vos also noted that having numerous spectators back along the route will make it a great day as well.

“Belgium is a real cycling country. It is great to have the World Championships here,” Vos added.”Everyone is really crazy for cycling, and seeing cyclists as heroes. Being back now with crowds, it’s a great vibe and the atmosphere is great to be back with the crowds.”

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Jackie Tyson

Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling for people of all abilities and ages. Tyson has been recognized for communications excellence with 10 Phoenix Awards, presented by the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp - and was recognized by a national media outlet as the first female depicted in a pro baseball card set (Ft. Myers Royals). She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times. Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in  Provence (France). Her favorite mountain bike rides are in Park City, Utah (USA).