Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) had conflicting emotions as she finished the momentous opening stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift on Sunday.
The story of the first women's Tour de France yellow jersey to be handed out in 33 years on the shoulders of the legendary Dutch rider, the G.O.A.T, just wasn't meant to be.
Vos had secured the first bonus sprint points on offer, and looked good coming into the final in the wheel of teammate Anna Henderson. She opened her sprint early, forcing race favorite Lorena Wiebes to counter. But Wiebes was prepared. The DSM rider came over the top of Vos with such speed that Vos simply couldn’t respond in time. She’d run out of power or out of time.
“We did everything we could and so of course, it's a bit of a real bummer to come up short. But on the other hand I don't think much went wrong," Vos told Cycling Weekly. "The team did everything right and I don't think I did much wrong myself either. Lorena was simply the fastest.”
Wiebes deserved her win, and Vos was the first to congratulate her compatriot with a friendly pat on the back mere inches after crossing the line.
Vos then welcomed an ice vest and some words of comfort from her staff and teammates. As the media descended upon the finishers however, Vos was eager to get out of the line of fire, but gracefully allowed Cycling Weekly to come walk alongside her as she rolled back to her team bus.
Eight years ago, the Tour de France organizers, the ASO, launched a one-day women's race in conjunction with the men's Tour called La Course. The race was ASO's response to a 97,307-signatures-strong petition calling for a women's Tour de France. Vos was one of four women who led the petition alongside Kathryn Bertine, Emma Pooley and Chrissie Wellington.
The one-day race was the start, and this year's tour is another step forward.
In 2014, after Vos had won that inaugural one-day race, she and I stood atop these same cobbles on the Champs-Élysées. Reflecting on that day and the sheer hype and fanfare at this year's event, Vos mentioned how amazed she and her teammates were watching the crowds as their team bus maneuvered the narrow Paris streets on their way to the start line.
"It's great and also a bit crazy how much attention we've been getting. On the one hand you are enjoying it, on the other you have to keep that focus and those things can go hand in hand, but in the final, it is only about one thing and that is focus," she said.
"But I am absolutely aware of the beauty of this sport and how special it is to be standing here right now."
Even in second place.
When asked if the green jersey might be of interest to her after netting full points at the first intermediate sprint on offer today, Vos said the green jersey hadn't been the goal.
"One would think I was going for the points yeah, but [contesting the intermediate sprint] was really in preparation for the finish and to see how it would go and where we should position ourselves," she explained.
The Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift continues tomorrow, Monday, July 25th, with a flat 136.5-kilometre stage between the cities of Meaux and Provins. The course gets a little bumpy toward the end but could very well end in another sprint, which for Vos could mean another chance at a stage victory
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