I can’t hear a thing as I walk down the finishing straight with Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) pedaling beside me on the way to her team bus. I even cover my ears for a second as the banging of the billboards simply becomes too much.
“Wow. Has it been like this for you all day?” I ask.
Vos laughs and shouts: “it’s been incredible!”
She recognizes the fans with a polite wave, something she's been doing for the past hour.
After compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten absolutely decimated the peloton up the (not so) Petit Ballon and Grand Ballon climbs, Vos found herself doing a bit of a victory lap, despite knowing she’d lost her Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift yellow jersey.
Not a climbing specialist, Vos had known this moment would come.
"Looking at the profile of Saturday and Sunday, it’s definitely another kind of race. And for us upfront, we were aiming for a stage victory, that worked out on Monday already. A second one, in the yellow jersey, is already more than we could have dreamt of,” Vos had said the previous evening.
Today, she gave it her best but she wasn’t feeling great and even if she had, no one was able to match the incredible performance from the 39-year-old Movistar rider. Vos was dropped on the first big climb and rode to the finish at the Markstein ski resort in the company of her teammates some 22 minutes after Van Vleuten.
“Of course, you're not happy to give up [the yellow jersey], but it was clear that it just wasn’t going to happen for me. When they went for it at the start of the Petit Ballon, all I could do was ride my own pace and I was happy to be in a nice group with a few teammates,” Vos says.
The first climb was a bit of a struggle for Vos but once she found her rhythm and made peace with it all, she was able to relax and just take it all in — the incredible crowds all along the course, the stunning surroundings of the Vognes mountains and Alsace vineyards, and, well, riding in a women’s Tour de France to begin with.
“Once I found my rhythm, I was able to enjoy it, “ Vos says, who was seen waving to the crowds as she pedaled up to the Markstein summit.
“You feel the tension, you also feel the emotion, you feel the excitement in bunch and you feel the excitement from all the people around it. It’s really special to be here and to be able to race here,” Vos says.
Vos, of course, was instrumental in the creation of an official women’s Tour de France and to see her, the greatest of all time, in the iconic maillot jaunt felt destined.
“Monday was a very magical moment for me and again to win in yellow. There’s not much else to wish for. It’s actually more than a dream come true,” she says.
Her dad, Henk Vos, who along with her mother Conny and brother Anton have been following her around, weekend after weekend, race after race, for the past 29 years is curating a future museum of Vos’ career and this jersey will certainly be given a special place.
“This one is coming home with us first,” he said, waving at his daughter making the media rounds. “It is indeed a very special jersey. This was a dream, so much has been written about it and now this is coming true. A first women’s Tour de France [for Vos’ generation] and then also winning in yellow, it's so big.”
Luckily Vos has five of these yellow jerseys now because she too plans on giving one a special place in her home.
“Yes, that jersey will get a nice spot. It will be a special memento later on,” she says.
It may not be yellow, but Vos will line up for the final stage of the 2022 Tour de France avec Zwift in the green points jersey, which certainly isn’t a bad back-up jersey either.
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