Dutch Olympic and three-time world champion Marianne Vos made history today on the final stretch (and most prestigious stage) of the Tour de France, taking home the top prize as the first-ever winner of the inaugural La Course, a 55-mile urban circuit sponsored by the A.S.O. and Specialized in the heart of Paris.
Reaching top speeds of up to 37 miles per hour on the part-cobble stone, part-paved Champs Elysees, which included 12 laps around the Arc de Triomphe, 120 of the world's top female road cyclists battled to beat Vos, who is one of the historic women-only race's principle advocates. Fellow Dutch rider Kristen Wild from Team Giant-Shimano came in second, while Canadian rider Leah Kirchmann from Team Optum Pro Cycling came in third. Americans Shelley Olds (Ale Cippolini) and Coryn Rivera (United Healthcare) finished in the top 10.
“La Course by Tour de France identifies a new era for women's cycling,” says Vos. Though it may be a new era, she's not a new face on the podium. Vos is known for winning almost every race she enters. And as much as it disappoints her fiercest competitors, it sounds like she really earned yet another crown. “Vos is a great cyclist. She deserves to win here. She's the fastest,” says Boels Dolmans rider Ellen Van Dijk, who is also a Dutch woman. Specialized-Lululemon rider and national time trial champion Carmen Small agrees: “It was pretty fast all day. We were attacking. Vos' team did a great job. They saved their energy for the last two laps and helped her lead out. They raced really well.”
One could argue that Vos should have taken a more humble approach and passed the torch to a fresh face to help promote women's cycling, which is the reason she fought so hard for La Course's presence at the Tour for the past year. But then again, this may be further proof that women in sports has come a long way. No man would ever gift the win to a peer. Like her male-counterparts, Vos raced by the rule: May the best man (or woman!) win. And in this case, the best contender is still Vos. With one race in the history books, one thing's for sure, the best is yet to come.