Marianne Vos (WM3 Pro Cycling) will kick-start her cyclo-cross season at the Scheldecross in Antwerp on December 16. After Antwerp, Vos will race three more times in December at the Waalandcross Sint-Niklaas, the World Cup Heusden-Zolder and the Superprestige Cross Diegem.
Vos finished her road season at the UCI Road World Championships at the end of September, where her teammate Chantal Blaak won the road race world title. She headed off to Australia afterwards to enjoy some downtime, but made sure to get some cross training in beforehand. She says that she has been gunning to get back to racing and has been putting in the training miles since returning from the southern hemisphere.
"Prior to leaving for Australia, I had already trained on the 'cross bike. It already started itching then. I was able to complete a set of decent training, specifically for the cross," Vos said in an interview published on the WM3 Pro Cycling website. "Upon my return, a beautiful new Ridley 'cross bike was waiting for me, giving me an instant confident feeling. It is important now to fine-tune that feeling for which I have another week and a half.
"My time in Australia was amazing, which I won't easily forget. But upon my return, I knew for sure I was back in the Netherlands. In Australia, it was often hot, between 30 and 35 degrees. Here in the Netherlands, the cold had the upper hand. Previous years, I sometimes suffered from these differences in temperatures, but not this time. I was able to train very well during my first week back; obviously, I took it easy in terms of exertion. I feel fit."
The 30-year-old had a strong 2017 road season with nine victories, including the European road race title and overall wins at the Ladies Tour of Norway and BeNe Ladies Tour. They all came in the latter half of the year following Vos' return to action after she crashed out of the Ovo Energy Women's Tour on stage 4, breaking her collarbone in the process.
As ever, Vos' cyclo-cross calendar will be somewhat truncated after taking on a solid season on the road. Last year, Vos racked up seven victories despite the shorter season and duked it out with Sanne Cant in the World Championships in Luxembourg. Cant eventually beat the Dutchwoman in a dramatic finale to take her first world title. The World Championships in Valkenburg will form the basis of Vos' season once again, where she will be looking for her eighth title.
"My season looks pretty similar to last year's, also in terms of the number of races. My trainer and I looked as much as possible for a balance, a good ratio between races and rest. I know the impact a cyclo-cross can have on the body. In the end, it all comes down to compete to the fullest in the races I signed up for.
"It will be a relatively short season. Firstly, I need some races to get into the rhythm, and afterwards, I hope to compete with the best. Cyclo-cross helps me in the preparation of the road season, but obviously, I want to perform as well as possible during this period. The world championship this year takes place in our own country which makes it even more special. I hope to be in my best shape in Valkenburg."