I hear nothing as I walk down the finish straight with Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) pedaling beside me on the way to her team bus. I even cover my ears for a second because the snapping of billboards just gets too loud.
“Wow. Has it been like that for you all day?” I ask.
Vos laughs and shouts, “That was amazing!”
She recognizes the fans with a polite gesture, which she has been doing for an hour.
After her compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten completely decimated the peloton on the (not so) Petit Ballon and Grand Ballon climbs, Vos found herself doing a bit of a lap of honor, even though she knew she had lost his yellow jersey.
Not a rock climber, Vos knew this time would come.
“To see the profile of Saturday and Sunday, it’s definitely a different kind of race. And for us in the lead, we were aiming for a stage victory, it already worked on Monday. A second, in the yellow jersey, it is already more than we could have dreamed of,” Vos had said the night before.
Today she gave her best but she didn’t feel well and even if she did, no one could match the incredible performance of the 39-year-old Movistar rider. Vos was dropped on the first big climb and reached the finish at Markstein ski resort with her teammates some 22 minutes after Van Vleuten.
“Of course you’re not happy to give up [the yellow jersey], but it was clear that was just not going to happen for me. When they started at the start of the Petit Ballon, all I could do was go at my own pace and I was happy to be in a nice group with a few teammates,” explained Vos.
The first ascent was a bit difficult for Vos, but once she found her rhythm and made peace with it all, she was able to relax and absorb it all – the incredible crowds along the way, the beautiful surroundings des Vognes the mountains and vineyards of Alsace, and, well, riding a women’s Tour de France for starters.
“Once I found my rhythm, I was able to enjoy it,” says Vos, who was seen waving to the crowd as she pedaled to the top of Markstein.
“You feel the tension, you also feel the emotion, you feel the excitement as a group and you feel the excitement of all the people around it. It’s really special to be here and to be able to race here” , says Vos.
Vos, of course, was instrumental in creating an official women’s Tour de France and to see her, the greatest of all time, in the iconic jersey ride seemed destined.
“Monday was a very magical moment for me and once again to win in yellow. There is not much else to wish for. It’s actually more than a dream come true,” she says.
Her father, Henk Vos, who together with her mother Conny and her brother Anton follows her everywhere, weekend after weekend, race after race, has been organizing a future museum of Vos’s career for 29 years and this jersey will certainly begin a special place.
“This one’s coming home with us first,” he said, waving his daughter around to the media. “It is indeed a very special jersey. It was a dream, so much has been written about it and now it is coming true. A first women’s Tour de France [for Vos’ generation] and then also winning in yellow, it’s so big.
Thankfully, Vos now has five of those yellow jerseys because she, too, plans to give one a special place in her home.
“Yes, this jersey will have a nice place. It will be a special memory later,” she says.
It might not be yellow, but Vos will line up for the final stage of the 2022 Tour de France with Zwift in the green dots jersey, which certainly isn’t a bad backup jersey either.