Cyclo-cross Worlds: Vos not sure of start on Saturday

Dutchwoman picks Ferrand-Prévot, Nash and Lechner as top contenders

The 2015 women’s Cyclo-cross World Championships will be one of the most open in the competition’s 16 year history. While seven-time champion Marianne Vos almost always starts as the favourite, this year she’s still recovering from a hamstring injury, and although she always wants to defend her rainbow jersey, she told Cyclingnews she’s still not sure she can start.

“At the moment I'm in Tábor and still want to take part. My injury is not fully recovered, so I have to see it day by day. Hopefully on Saturday I’ll feel good enough to defend my World title. I have some doubts about my fitness, but I came to Tábor to race. It's not often that I came into a race like this, so I'll have to see what happens.”

The course is familiar to Vos – although she has never won the World Cup when it’s been here, or, unusually for Vos, even been on the podium, she was victorious last time the World Championships were raced here in 2010.

“I've raced in Tábor previously in different circumstances,” she said, “from dry, to slippery mud, to snow/ice. On my first recon of the course it was quite muddy and very slippery in some of the corners. We'll have to see what the weather does, but I guess it will be a power ride if the temperatures stay like this.”

It’s not only her injury that will make it a challenge for Vos to defend her title. While her traditional big rival, Katie Compton, has been suffering with breathing problems in recent races, a raft of other riders have taken a step up this season, with five different winners over the six rounds of the World Cup, and riders developing all the time. While this makes it harder for Vos to win, she welcomes the challenge.

“It’s very good for our sport that the top riders have got closer to each other and the field has got stronger in depth. This makes it more interesting racing, and better for the spectators. Worlds is always a different race than the others, but it will definitely be hard.

“For me, the favourites are Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, who is fast and has good technical skills and Katerina Nash, who is strong and races in front of a home crowd. An outsider is Eva Lechner, who showed herself in top form in the Hoogerheide World Cup.”

For Vos, other riders’ improvement keeps her motivated to push herself, and after seven World Championships in CX – to go with her three road golds, two on the track and two Olympic victories – she isn’t ready to stop just yet. “It’s the fun of going out and just riding, and pushing yourself to the limit. This combined with the joy of being part of a team and playing the game of racing.”

Once the Cyclo-cross Worlds are over, Vos will focus on making sure she’s fully recovered, and then look ahead to the road, planning to focus on the big Spring Classics, starting with the first women’s Strade Bianche. The team camps have had a really good atmosphere, she says, and she’s already looking forward to the racing.

Of course her Rabo-Liv team includes Ferrand-Prévot, who isn’t just a rival in cyclo-cross, but took Vos’ World title from her in Ponferrada last year. While some people have suggested this may cause tension, Vos herself isn’t concerned about seeing her teammate in the rainbow jersey.
“For me it actually doesn't feel that strange, because I normally don't see myself riding. Of course, the first moment was a bit weird for us both, but I'm glad the stripes stayed in the team, and Pauline is a worthy champion. We have fun making little jokes about the rainbow stripes.”

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