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When the women’s peloton lines up for one of the hardest and most prestigious races on the calendar at Tour of Flanders, former multi-time world champion Marianne Vos will likely be watching the race from home with the rest of us.
While previously expected to race, Vos, the winner of the 2013 Tour of Flanders, was notably absent when startlists were published.
Despite coming off cyclocross season in great form, we have only seen Vos compete at three races so far this season. And, after a frustrating finish at Trofeo Binda, a lack of appearances this spring, and a rather quiet social media presence, there is some whispering going on in the cycling world.
Where is Vos? Has she overtrained again? Is she’s having a hard time finding her form?
The team, however, assures us that there is nothing out of the ordinary, rather it is all part of the plan to avoid the problems of the past.
“There is no talk of [Vos] quitting or being overtrained,” said press officer Rik Booltink. “Only a year ago, her situation was quite different, as you know. She’s come far and we, of course, would never want her to slip back into that situation therefore it’s a conscious choice to make sure she has a balanced race-training program.”
This time last year, Vos was making her much anticipated comeback after having been sidelined for over a year. Upon her return it wouldn’t take her long to appear on the podium with a win at Pajot Hills Classic in March and there were more successes at Tour of California, Aviva Ladies Tour and Thüringen Rundfahrt yet her old, dominating form was missing.
And so, in 2016 we witnessed a new Vos. Always a race favourite, she added several more wins to her already lengthy palmares, but her most memorable performances of the year were perhaps in the role of domestique. An invaluable asset to the Dutch squad, Vos became the world’s best bottle-getter in the team’s golden performance at the Rio Olympics and served as Kirsten Wild’s final leadout on her way to a silver medal at the UCI road world championships in Qatar.
But then came the winter and Vos made a stellar comeback in the dirt, dominating the ‘cross scene in the December and January months and capping her season with a silver medal at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships.
“My preparation has been satisfying,” Vos blogged recently. “During the past winter, I accomplished a nice, well-balanced cyclocross campaign which was an ideal preparation for the road-season.”
And so, anticipation for an equally impressive spring season with her new WM3 Pro Cycling team ran high. But as the team is still looking for their first win, Vos appears to be looking to races later this season instead.
“[Vos] is still training and is following her own program leading up to the next block of races,” Booltink stated.