I recently read an article articulating the case for Serena Williams to be recognised as the greatest sports person ever. I am not really a tennis fan, and even if I was it would still be difficult to compare athletes across sports and across gender. The story did get me thinking, however, about Marianne Vos and how her career should sit in the overall scheme of things. How does Marianne’s career compare to that of Serena’s and how does her career sit objectively against her male counterparts in cycling? 2019 has been another stellar year for Marianne with numerous victories including La Course, Tour of Yorkshire and the Tour of Norway. At times this year it has looked like, at 32 years of age, she is actually getting stronger. Those victories and others this year can be be added to what is arguably the longest list of individual victories in any sport. But the list is incomplete, as it lacks a grand tour victory, simply because women’s cycling has never had one. If the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta had run grand tours for women, how many would Marianne have potentially won? In my mind the answer is at least six or seven and in all likelihood probably more. Serena will likely retire as the greatest tennis player of all time and if bike races gave equal status to men and women then potentially Marianne would retire (in 2028 🙂 ) with the same mantle in cycling and potentially with an athletic palmarès that would likely never be matched. B.M.
*Marianne Vos will be competing in her third TOMR in 2019