Marianne Vos is an omnivore when it comes to cycling. With three road race world titles, six rainbow jerseys in cyclocross, two track world titles, two Olympic titles and numerous UCI World Cup victories, the 26-year old Dutch rider seems unstoppable. However, in combining mountain biking with a road race career she found her limits.
"I like challenges but combining these two disciplines last year was just too much. We stopped the mountain biking just in time, because otherwise I might have missed the world championships in Florence ," she told cyclingonline.nl.
Vos being Vos means that she has high ambitions for the new season, but is willing to take a step back to let other riders in the Rabobank-Liv team shine. "I have no problems riding for a teammate in a big race. I've never had problems with it."
With Anna van der Breggen, Dutch champion Lucinda Brand, and strong riders such as Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Annemiek van Vleuten, who had surgery last year and is now recovering to get back to top form, Rabobank-Liv has several options.
"I am still hungry to win, don't get me wrong," Vos continues. "But I notice that I get more and more satisfaction from contributing to other riders' victories. We have several aces to play. They shouldn't only look at me anymore."
The first challenge of the 2014 season is the world cyclo cross championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. In 2009 she started her winning streak of five consecutive world titles in Hoogerheide, but she acknowledges that the competition with Katie Compton this year will be harder than ever.
"A world title is never a certitude before the start. In previous years me and Katie were equal but I managed to win after a harsh battle. This year she doesn't leave anything on the course, not even technically like she used to do before. Our battle during the World Cup in Nommay will be an important indicator for my form, but I am sure I can improve in the next weeks."
After the cyclo-cross season Vos will take a little step back to prepare for the road season. "I never ride the Tour of Qatar or the Omloop het Nieuwsblad. They just come too early," she says to cyclingonline.nl. The first round of World Cup of the year at the Ronde van Drenthe, will be when she returns to defend her overall win of 2013.
Vos' ambition is to win three world titles in 2014; cyclo cross, and the road race and team time trial titles in Ponferrada. "Our team is stronger than ever so I think the world team time trial title is a realistic goal this year. We won silver in 2013 and that makes us long for more."
Last year Vos tried a new challenge in mountain biking. "I am used to that whenever I think of new things [to do], I succeed. I like to challenge myself. Mountain biking is a great but also a very tough sport. It was a lesson for me that I might not even have been able to ride the Worlds in Florence if we hadn't stopped mountain biking in time. There was a time I couldn't find the right form in both road racing as mountain biking. I will now concentrate riding MTB in May and July but won't ride the Worlds. Ponferrada is more important."
Vos is an icon in women's cycling and hopes that the Tour de France Grand Départ in Utrecht in 2015 will host a women's event. "The door to a women's Tour de France is still slightly open but it will be a long term project. It's a huge logistical challenge to add this event to the [current] Tour. The start in 2015 will be too early but on the other side you have to start sometimes if you want to make this happen."