Two weeks ago Marianne Vos donned the UCI Women Road World Cup winnerâ€™s jersey for the second consecutive year. In just over two weeks she will defend her road World Championâ€™s jersey, which she aims to add to the rainbow model she won for cyclo-cross back in February.
Once again, it has been a full-on year â€“ donâ€™t forget that 2013 has also seen her start her mountain bike comeback â€“ but one that the 26-year-old is living with relish.
â€śIt seems like a long time since the cyclo-cross season but itâ€™s only seven months,â€ť points out the Olympic road champion. â€śAnd after the cyclo-cross season I was just so excited to pick up my mountain bike again.â€ť
A return to mountain bike
As a Junior Marianne Vos was four-times Dutch National MTB Champion and also won a round of the UCI World Cup.
For her return to mountain bike in March this year, she won a professional mountain bike stage race in Cyprus, the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. In doing so she collected enough points to compete in the UCI World Cup, and went on to finish 11th in the opening round in Albstadt, Germany, in May.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t a win but it felt like a win to me. At the beginning of the season I didnâ€™t know what to expect but I wanted to show I could compete at World Cup level. I was very surprised to win in Cyprus and I began to think I was good enough to compete in the World Cup.
â€śMy second World Cup (23rd in Vallnord in July) wasnâ€™t so good but it has been a learning experience. I still need to learn a lot and gain experience, especially technically.â€ť
Fifth UCI Road World Cup victory
In-between trying to build on those technical skills, the Dutch athlete was busy clocking up victories in the UCI Women Road World Cup. With five wins out of eight events on the World Cup calendar the flying Dutchwoman won the series for the fifth time since 2007. The until-then elusive win in the Tour of Flanders remains her sweetest victory of the World Cup season: â€śIt was a big goal to have that one on my list of honours.â€ť
Despite training and racing in three different disciplines she still finds time to champion the cause of all cyclists and of women in particular. A member of the UCI Athletesâ€™ Commission since its inception in 2011, she is also determined to raise awareness of the value of womenâ€™s cycling.
â€śWe are getting more recognition but womenâ€™s cycling still lacks media coverage. I think people want to watch but itâ€™s a hard job to follow it. There is still a step to make. Coverage is the problem.â€ť
Womenâ€™s cycling: â€śit is so interesting to watchâ€ť
Marianne Vos was one of the women athletes behind a petition calling for a professional womenâ€™s field to be allowed to compete in the 2014 Tour de France in conjunction with the men, albeit with different start times so as to be sure that the racing remained separate.
â€śDid I really believe that it would be accepted for the three weeks of the Tour de France? Maybe not. But we wanted to speak out. The spectators are already there, the officials are there, the media is there. I have a passion for road cycling and I feel we (women) can add to an event. It is so interesting to watch.â€ť
With the cyclo-cross world title already under her belt for 2013, Marianne Vos is now acclimatising to Tuscany before the road World Championships. As well as training, she will compete in a five-day stage race, the Giro della Toscana Int. Femminile â€“ Memorial Michela Fanini (September 11-15).
Vos predicts tough racing in Tuscany Worlds
â€śTuscany is my favourite place to be so Iâ€™m not too worried about being here,â€ť she jokes. But she becomes a little more serious when it comes to talking about the World Championships: â€śItâ€™s going to be hard,â€ť she concedes. â€śAll the big names are there, the course is really hard and everyone wants to win! The level is getting higher and you need to stay focused and give it 100%. Otherwise everyone will overtake!â€ť
The UCI Road World Championships are the immediate goal. Longer term is to qualify for the mountain bike race at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and, why not, add a third Olympic title to that of track (points race in Beijing 2008) and road (London 2012).
So what about cyclingâ€™s fourth and youngest Olympic discipline, BMX?
Marianne Vos draws the line: â€śNo, I am going to stop trying different disciplines. Thatâ€™s enough!â€ť
Photo: Marianne Vos wins the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Louisville (USA)