Giro d’Italia Donne: The ‘GOAT’ – Marianne Vos and her road to 30 stage wins

Mark Cavendish labelled her the greatest of all time, and he's not wrong. Marianne Vos' journey to 30 Giro d'Italia Donne stage wins is nothing short of remarkable.

Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

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Mark Cavendish isn’t wrong, Marianne Vos really is the ‘GOAT’.

The Dutchwoman stormed to her 30th victory at the premier women’s race, the Giro d’Italia Donne, on Thursday in emphatic fashion.

After responding to an attack from Elisa Longo Borghini in the technical finale of stage 7, she left the Italian champion for dead as she blasted to the line in Puegnago del Garda.

Vos already had the all-time record before she started the race, and nobody has got anywhere near her new tally of 30.

Petra Rossner is the next closest to the Jumbo-Visma rider with her 19 wins. Even five-time Giro d’Italia Donne winner Fabiana Luperini has but half of her victories with 15.

Also read: Marianne Vos secures 30th Giro stage win

“It’s an incredible number and it’s not something I was really thinking of,” Vos said after reaching the record. “You know every day is a new day in the Giro, and every day you have to be ready to focus, to fight, to get there, and I think my team is also inspirational to get me in the right position and to get me ready and to get me in this ride focused to win again.”

The milestone is an incredible achievement in a highly decorated career for Vos.

If it wasn’t impressive enough, her wins have come across just 10 appearances spread over three separate decades. She made her debut in 2007 and has taken at least one win in each of her subsequent appearances – often many more than one.

Her record is such that it led Mark Cavendish to declare her the ‘GOAT’ – the greatest of all time – and an ‘inspiration’ to him in an Instagram post. When accosted by Dutch television ahead of stage 13, Cavendish expanded further on his idolization of Vos.

“She’s incredible, isn’t she. Not just the how she rides her bike, but the adversity she’s overcome when she had a bad few years,” he told NOS. “She’s an inspiration. You know the most beautiful thing is the amount she pushes for the growth of women’s cycling and she’s at the part of her career where she’ll never see the benefit of it so she’s not doing it for her own personal gain.

Also read: La Course by Le Tour de France: Dutch riders look formidable ahead of Olympic Games

“She’s doing it for the next generation of women cyclists, my daughter’s generation of women’s cycling. For me, that’s truly what empowerment is and it’s truly inspirational.”

As a side note, the impact of Cavendish’s comments cannot be understated. While Vos may be a household name for many cycling fans and Dutch nationals, she remains a relative unknown to quite a few as well. To have a person with that profile to tout her as one of his inspirations is a big boost for women’s cycling – something that she has fought tirelessly for.

Throughout Vos’ career, she has used her platform to wave the flag for female cyclists. She also played an integral role in lobbying Tour de France organizer ASO for a women’s event. Something that will become a reality next year.

Staying at the top

Vos’ career in four separate cycling disciplines has encompassed three different decades and is in its 18th year. It’s hard to get the true picture of her prowess but she has won more than 400 races. Yes, 400.

She has 12 world championship titles on the road, track, and cyclocross, and two Olympic gold medals between the road and the track.

Vos’ first world title came at the 2006 cyclocross worlds at the tender age of 19, and she was 20 when she claimed her first road world title later that year.

Over the seasons, Vos has won just about everything going and there are hardly any races that she can say she hasn’t won.

Her marauding dominance of the sport did take its toll on Vos’ body, and she struggled with a hamstring injury throughout 2015. After a strong cyclocross campaign that winter, she contested just two road races before she had to call time on the season.

Vos battled back from the injury and returned to racing in 2016 – taking her first win in just her second race. If there had been any worry that her time as one of the forces within women’s racing was done, she corrected the notion immediately.

As her career has matured, there has been a noticeable development in the way Vos rides. These days, she doesn’t dominate over such a wide variety of terrains.

Instead, as the peloton’s talents deepen, she has honed her efforts.

Where she once would win in stage races, on climbs, and in sprints, she has focused on what suits her best and that is hilly races with a fast finish. That decision to limit her efforts to a few specific days has been integral in the continuation of her time at the top.

Even with fewer opportunities and a greater number of serious rivals, Vos has still proven herself the boss on a regular basis. She is in the twilight of her career now, but she’s still going strong, and – who knows – maybe she can get to 40.

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