A nasty fall in the third stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour last month saw Marianne Vos (WM3 Pro Cycling) along with several other riders hit the deck at 60 km/h. The former multi-discipline world champion scrambled back onto her feet and rode herself across the finish line, but her face showed that she was hurting. A visit to the hospital confirmed a collarbone break, forcing her to abandon the remainder of the race and sit out the 10-day Giro Race that followed.
Now, just five weeks since the crash, Vos is ready to return to the women’s peloton. She’ll be lining up alongside her WM3 teammates at the BeNe Ladies Tour, a four-day UCI 2.1 stage race in Belgium and The Netherlands.
” I am confident that I’ll quickly be at the same level as I was prior to the collarbone break,” Vos stated.
It’s been a rough season for the 30-year-old. After a dominant comeback in cyclocross – in which she won the national title, several world cups and a silver medal at the World Championships in January – many expected Vos to be back to her old winning ways.
But after just a few unsuccessful appearances in the early season, she pulled out of Tour of Flanders and Flèche Wallonne, and we didn’t see her resurface on the WorldTour stage until the Women’s Tour.
Steadily working on her fitness, Vos won smaller UCI events at home like the Trofee Maarten Wynants and the eponymous Marianne Vos Classic (a.k.a 7-Dorpenomloop Wijk en Aalburg), and was looking good at the Women’s Tour in Britain.
“It was upsetting for this to happen in the midst of the season,” commented Vos. “I had just gotten in the right rhythm, which was evident in the results. I was feeling really good leading up to the Dutch national championships.”
“When I was lying on the ground in England I knew immediately: this isn’t good,” recalled Vos. “Still, I was hopeful and grabbed the bike. I thought, ‘I have to finish, maybe it won’t be so bad. In the hospital, however, came the news that it was indeed broken. You can only do one thing in that moment, accept the situation and hope for a good recovery.”
Vos, however, did more than just hope. She was back on a bike within days.
“I crashed on Friday, Saturday I went home and on Sunday I made my first kilometres on my city bike –just riding around with one hand so I didn’t have to sit still. It’s such a pesky situation that it is really nice to get outside. You’ll go crazy otherwise,” said Vos, who suffered an almost identical fracture in 2012.
“That following week I got back on my Ridley and shortly thereafter started training seriously again. When my body was ready for a bigger load, I went to Sardinia.”
In Sardinia, Vos did a mini training camp, but kept the intensity at an appropriate level.
“I recovered and trained well in a beautiful, versatile environment. However, I was also relatively careful and trained at a slightly lower intensity, as it usually takes six weeks for a collarbone to heal, and it’s still only been five weeks,” she acknowledged.
While she trained, her WM3 teammates competed on mainland Italy in women’s cycling’s only Grand Tour, the Giro Rosa.
“I tried to finish my workouts early in the day. Often I was on the bike at seven o’clock and I was back by noon – time enough to relax and follow the Giro Rosa via social media, although I have to say it wasn’t always easy,” said Vos. “Hopefully there will soon be a time when our races will be viewable from anywhere. The demand from supporters definitely is getting louder and louder. It’s good to see the interest getting bigger and bigger.”
Expectations at BeNE Ladies Tour
Going into the four-day BeNE Ladies Tour, Vos is keeping her expectations low.
“It’s a nice stage race, a comprehensive tour with a prologue and time trial. We don’t have too many of those. How it’ll go for me, we’ll just have to wait and see,” she said. “I trained at a fairly low intensity in Italy so going at maximum intensity, I’m expecting to be lacking.”
While the tour will mostly be about getting some speed in the legs, Vos is a competitor through and through.
“Most people know me by now and they’ll know that if there are any opportunities, I won’t be letting those pass me by,” Vos admitted.
Sights on for Bergen
While the season is far from over, Vos is placing her focus on the UCI Road World Championships in Norway this September, where she hopes to line up in excellent form.
“The world championship in Norway is a big goal,” said Vos, who will first tackle La Course, The Prudential RideLondon Classique and the European Championship.
“At the European Championship, the course is completely flat while the World Championship has a fairly heavy course. I have heard stories from people who have been there and I have seen some pictures as well. The climb that is in it is equal to the climb up Vaalserberg. That hurts if you have to ride it eight times.”
Once racing starts, you can follow along with Vos and her performance at BeNe Ladies Tour with updates in our Daily News Digest.