Across men’s and women’s cycling, Marianne Vos is one of the most decorated riders of all time. She’s also one of the most versatile too. She’s won World Championships in each of road, track and cyclo-cross cycling.
Her breakout season was 2006. In the Winter she became World Cyclocross champion for the first time. She followed it up by winning the Dutch Nationals, the European Championship and the World Championship on the road too. The following year Vos won the year-long World Cup competition for the first time and her first major classic in Flèche Wallonne.
It led into a solid period of accumulating wins between 2008-2010. More National titles, lots of Flèche Wallonne wins, Ronde van Drenthe, Alfredo Binda and Giro Rosa and Route de France stages were all won. 2011 saw her next big development as a rider, winning the Giro Rosa for the first time. Her dominance was such that she won 5 stages, the overall, the points and the mountains jerseys.
After finishing 2nd in the World Championships for an impressively unlucky 5 years in a row, Vos was back on the top step in 2012. She also won the Olympic road race in London to go with the Olympic gold she won on the track in 2008. Another Giro Rosa win, again with 5 stage wins showed her all-round ability. Vos won the World Championships again in 2013 and added the Tour of Flanders to her palmares too, amongst her many wins.
The Women’s Tour (of Britain) and the brand new La Course by Tour de France race were won for the first time in 2014. After only finishing 6th in 2013, Vos also won the Giro Rosa again. Vos suffered a hamstring problem at the start of the 2015 season and then broke a rib which meant for the first time, Vos didn’t win a race during the season.
She won some stages here and there in 2016 but the dominance of previous years had waned as a new generation pushed through. 2017 was a return to previous form as Vos became European Champion. She also won the Tour of Norway, for the first time too. Vos retained that title going in 2018 and won her first Giro Rosa stage in 4 years too.
A resurgence of Marianne Vos was seen in 2019 with wins at the highest-profile races again. 4 stages of the Giro Rosa were won, including that infamous catch and pass on the line of Lucy Kennedy. The Tour de Yorkshire stage race was won and La Course was won for a 2nd time too. 10 years after her first win, Vos won the 2019 Trofeo Alfredo Binda too.
Marianne Vos’ palmares is unequalled in women’s cycling history. Particularly once you include the 7 Cyclocross and 2 Track World Championships she’s won as well. Only Pauline Ferrand-Prévot shares the achievement of being a World Champion in 3 disciplines and she doesn’t have the same depth overall to her win tally. There wouldn’t be too many arguments against Vos being considered the Merckx of the women’s peloton.
Greatest Race Victory
2009 Trofeo Alfredo Binda
Run during atrocious conditions, the 2009 edition of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda was a wet, soggy affair. The reigning world champion, Emma Pooley, would attack the peloton after 11km. She spent the next 80km ahead of the chasing pack on her own.
With the peloton whittled down to just 30 riders, Pooley was caught after 92km. Team Bigla had worked hard to catch Pooley and set up an attack for Noemi Cantele which didn’t stick. At this point Marianne Vos attacked with Swede Emma Johansson. This was the winning move. Behind them, Kristin Armstrong, Eva Lutz and Emma Pooley tried to bridge the gap. Pooley worked hard for her Cervelo teammate Armstrong.
Ultimately, Armstrong got to within 8 seconds of the lead pair by herself with just 20km left but never quite joined them. The effort cooked Armstrong for the final climb and she was rejoined by Eva Lutz, both with an advantage over the peloton.
Vos and Johansson were able to extend their lead with no serious chase behind them. In a head to head sprint, it was Vos who was the strongest, winning by a length. Silver Emma, as Emma Johansson was to become known, finished 2nd. 3 and a half minutes behind, Armstrong beat Lutz to round out the podium. The peloton were a further 45 seconds behind this pair, with Kirsten Wild winning the bunch sprint for 5th place.