Marianne Vos has dominated women’s cycling in all its forms since 2006. Road, cyclo-cross and track – she has hoovered up race wins and titles.
Vos had a supremely successful 2013 road season with overall victory in the UCI Women’s Road World Cup as well as world titles on the road and in cyclo-cross.
Vos was also busy racking up the victories over the winter, most notably by winning her seventh cyclo-cross rainbow jersey since 2006 in front of her home fans in Hoogerheide.
However, Marianne Vos will be a major absentee from the Boels Rental Ronde Van Drenthe on Saturday which opens the 2014 UCI Women’s Road World Cup. The leader of the Rabo Woman Cycling Team has decided to miss the event that she has won for the last three years. After a hectic 2013 season, an intense 2013-2014 winter and a few physical problems, in particular with her back, Vos will delay the start of her road season a few weeks, returning to action at the Flèche Wallonne on 23 April.
“One of my major objectives is the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Recent seasons have been long and tough and I want a bit more rest,” she explained a few weeks ago before adding: “Rabo Woman Cycling Team can still win without me.”
The absence of Marianne Vos will make Saturday’s race even more open and exciting. The 132 km event is a real gritty northern classic with cobbled sections and four ascents of the Vamberg.
Among the 22 teams and 136 cyclists who will line up at the start, regular protagonists in the peloton Ellen Van Dijk (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) and Emma Johansson (Orica) will be among the favourites to succeed Vos on to the top step of the podium in this first of nine rounds of the Women’s Road World Cup.
The competition will have extra spice this year with the advent of additional leaders’ jerseys. As well as the jersey for the overall leader of the World Cup, the best sprinter, best climber and best young rider in the competition will also be awarded jerseys at the end of each event.