Trofeo Alfredo Binda may have been Marianne Vos‘ first road race since September of last year, but the Jumbo-Visma rider was still holding firm in the chasing group of around 20 right through to the final nine kilometres, until cramps brought her almost to a standstill as she dropped away on the final passage of the Orino climb.
The 35-year-old finished her cyclocross season early and skipped her world title defence before mid-February surgery for pelvic artery constriction, which kept her off the bike for 10 days.
A 20th place finish at the 139km Trofeo Binda may not have been what she was hoping for as she returned to road racing at the Italian event where she has tasted victory four times, but her ability to hold near the top ranks on her return bodes well for later targets, with Dwars door Vlaanderen on March 29 and Tour of Flanders on April 4 next on the schedule.
“In the end, the team worked together to drop Marianne off in a good position,” said Jumbo-Visma race coach Carmen Small. Then she, unfortunately, cramped up, leaving everyone somewhat disappointed.
“Nevertheless, it is a good starting point after her surgery. Marianne’s ability to perform at this level already is encouraging, but it is always disappointing when a plan cannot be carried out all the way through.”
The race was won by Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo), who attacked on the descent of the Orino with under 25km to go, as the race was about to head into its final circuit. The Dutch rider held off the chase behind and then that group fought for the remaining podium spots 23 seconds behind, with Van Anrooij’s teammate Elisa Balsamo claiming second and Vittoria Guazzini coming third.
Vos, who had been training in Tenerife to work back toward pinning a number on, finished 1:31 back from Van Anrooij, who claimed the U23 cyclocross world title this year. Vos was swept up into the second group on the road which was led over by Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx), Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez) and then Vos in 20th position, with teammate Karlijn Swinkels also in the same group.
“This race has left us with mixed emotions,” Small said. “Marianne had to let go on the final climb because of cramps in both legs.
“Despite that setback, the entire squad rode well today. They did what we asked of them.”
The women’s Jumbo-Visma team have yet to claim their first victory of the season, with Vos without question the rider they’re most reliant on to build their tally.
Coryn Labecki and Karljin Swinkels, however, both took to the podium at Setmana Valenciana Fèmines and Swinkels was out in the break which was caught just before the final lap at Trofeo Binda.