The queen of women’s road racing said the atmosphere
at the Suffolk finish of the Friends Life Women’s Tour reminded her of the Olympics.
Dutchwoman Marianne Vos added to her London 2012 gold medal and world road title by clinching the stage and overall winners’ jersey of the inaugural five-day event in a thrilling sprint finish on Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday.
And the Rabo Liv rider, who celebrated her 27th birthday on Tuesday, said the carnival atmosphere along the route, which went through Hadleigh, Lavenham, Sudbury, Long Melford and Great Cornard, recreated scenes from her biggest triumphs.
“It has been fantastic,” she said of the crowds. “In the previous stages on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we had the school kids coming out and cheering us on and then this weekend I think everyone was out in the streets.
“And then to have a finish like this in Bury St Edmunds and then the podium fully crowded, it brings back memories of big races like the World Championships and the Olympic Games.”
Vos had built up a 19-second lead ahead of Sunday morning’s start of the final day from Harwich, after back-to-back stage wins.
But the last stage, a 108.3km route that also included a hill climb at Bridge Street, saw a nail-biting climax after the breakaway four had been pulled right in by the peloton.
Vos was able to just keep Italian Giorgia Bronzini at bay, with the Wiggle Honda rider’s British star teammate Lizzie Armistead having had to pull out ahead of the start with sickness.
Vos said the Suffolk countryside, and the tricky downhill chicane finish in Bury, provided the perfect setting and race conditions.
“It was quite technical and I am ok with that, I like a bit of technique in the final,” she said. “But it was also a really nice good finish here on Angel Hill and I think it was good for the public to watch.
“With the windy narrow roads constantly up and down, it is fun to race. It makes it very attractive because you constantly want to attack.”
With double Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott (63rd) suffering with a shoulder injury from a bad crash on Friday, two-time junior road world champion Lucy Garner’s 12th-placed finish on the day was enough to take the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Best British Rider jersey, handed to her by former England and Crystal Palace footballer Geoff Thomas.
She said: “It has been amazing.
“Every single village we came to there were hundreds of people supporting us and I had goosebumps every time.
“Going on the podium and seeing everyone supporting and cheering you was such a nice feeling.”
Vos added she thinks the race can become the biggest stage race for women’s cycling in the world and hopes it will have encouraged more women to take up cycling.
n Turn to Page 10 for crowd reaction
n For a video of the finish in Bury, log on www.suffolk freepress.co.uk/sport