Marianne Vos: I had to let go on the Paterberg at Tour of Flanders

Former Flanders winner on point on a rainy day in Flanders until the final climb makes the difference

Clock20:00, Sunday 31st March 2024
Marianne Vos before the start of the Tour of Flanders

© Getty Images

Marianne Vos before the start of the Tour of Flanders

Marianne Vos (Visma-Lease a Bike) was forced to settle for fourth at the Tour of Flanders after missing out on the key race move over the Paterberg.

The 2013 winner has been in scintillating form this season winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen since February and she came into the Tour of Flanders as a major contender for a second title. 

In atrocious conditions the 36-year-old kept herself in contention for most of the race, drawing on her experience and endurance to match the best on the majority of the climbs or chase back when any initial splits began to form.

A second title looked like a distinct possibility for Vos until the final climb of the Paterberg, at which point she was cut adrift by winner Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek), Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Shirin van Anrooij, who had attacked ahead of the Kwaremont.

Read more: Tour of Flanders – Elisa Longo Borghini triumphs in the rain

A chase group formed but they were no match for the leading trio. Nevertheless, Vos was the best of the rest, coming home in fourth in a reduced group sprint.

“It was real Flandrian weather and that plays a role in this kind of race. It was really, really hard,” she told GCN and other media at the finish in Oudenaarde.

Vos had come through the critical climb of the Koppenberg unscathed after the slippery cobbles caused crashes and several riders to dismount and walk up the short but steep ascent.

“To be in front there was a key point on the Koppenberg, not specifically on the front but we heard from the men’s race that it was very slippery so we tried to be in position there. Then the real race started, but by then you’d already used a lot of power, and in the end, the best were in front.”

“Of course, fourth isn’t what you really aim for but it was what I could do today. The best were in front and on the Paterberg I just had to let go.”

Read more: No regrets for Kasia Niewiadoma after gutsy second at Tour of Flanders

Vos was asked her opinion on the inclusion of the Koppenburg within the race. The climb affected the men’s race too, with Mathieu van der Poel powering clear as many of his rivals struggled to stay upright. Vos, an elite cyclo-cross rider, and one of the best bike handlers in the world, felt that the climb had its place in cycling but that the rainy conditions made it a close call.

“I think it’s a beautiful climb, it’s hard and it’s part of Flemish racing but in these conditions, with people walking, you have to say it’s on the edge because it’s racing. I like it when it’s tough and when it’s difficult.”

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