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Marianne Vos savours 'dream' Omloop Het Nieuwsblad debut

At the age of 36 and with almost two decades of racing experience in the pro peloton to her name, there are few races that Marianne Vos has yet to win, let alone start.

However, with career win number 249 at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, the Dutchwoman added another highlight to her near-endless reel of them, outpowering world champion Lotte Kopecky and Lidl-Trek duo Elisa Longo Borghini and Shirin van Anrooij on the Elisabethlaan in Ninove.

The Visma-Lease a Bike rider had been part of an elite chase group behind solo attacker Longo Borghini for half of the previous 30km before she, Kopecky, and Van Anrooij joined up with the Italian on the Muur van Geraardsbergen and went clear over the top.

The run to the line, after the Bosberg saw Kopecky fail to distance her rivals, was coloured by Lidl-Trek attacks as Vos stayed quiet in wait for the – as it turned out, rather successful – closing sprint.

“This victory means a lot to me. I would never have dreamed of starting the new season like this,” Vos said after the win. “The fact that it was also my debut in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad made it even better.”

Vos, who already has a pair of second places this season at the opening stages of the Setmana Valenciana, had identified race favourite Lotte Kopecky as the biggest threat in the lead group. As the Lidl-Trek pair faded in the sprint, leaving the two Dutch stars to battle it out head-to-head in the closing metres, she was proven correct.

“It was a very tough race and everyone knew how strong Kopecky was,” Vos said. “Along the way, she showed that she had really good legs.

“It was clear that she was going to try it on the Muur and on the Bosberg. Therefore, I had to pull out all the stops to follow her there. We had a nice group and then the game started.

“It was a tough race, so then you have to wait and see what is left in the legs. Kopecky rode an incredibly strong final. That I could beat her is great!”
The win marks Vos’ first since returning from surgery on the iliac artery in her left leg in August. She had previously written on Instagram that constriction of the artery had caused her to “[struggle] with pain and lack in power of my left leg for a long period of time.”
After celebrating a road win for the first time since last May’s La Vuelta Femenina, she paid tribute to key figures around her for helping with the return to this race-winning level.
“It is very nice to see how my family, my girlfriend and my friends sympathised with this story,” she said. “It was a long road to get back here, but I was able to prepare optimally for this start to the season. I am very happy.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: daniel.ostanek@futurenet.com
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