The Netherlands National Team will be holding a bike-off next week to decide which rider will represent their country in the omnium at the Track World Championships, when it returns to Dutch soil in March. Their choice lies between two formidable riders – Marianne Vos and Kirsten Wild, and the rider who wins will also represent the team at the Track World Cup in Manchester later this month.
"As there are only a few competitions in track cycling, and Kirsten and I both have our own schedules in the winter, we didn't have an opportunity to compete with each other”, Vos told Cyclingnews.
"That's why our national coach decided that a bike-off was needed for that place on the omnium. I believe this is the most fair way; we both could prepare well and the best one will do the Worlds.”
Vos has been riding a combined winter season of track and cyclocross, and last week won her fourth World cyclocross title, adding to her Worlds titles on the road and the track. The 23-year-old won the Olympic gold medal in the points race in 2008, and is aiming to be the first woman to win the Olympic omnium gold.
"Of course it's hard to make a balanced plan to be good in the big races in the winter and to have a good preparation on the road season, too”, said Vos. “The most difficult thing is to switch over from cyclocross to track, because I have to get back my top speed and that takes a while.”
Wild, who had to put her track ambitions on hold for two years while riding on the road for Cervélo, also has the Olympic gold firmly in her sights. One of the reasons she moved from Cervélo to AA Drink-Leontien.nl was to enable her to compete on the track in the run-up to 2012 – sponsor conflicts between Cervelo and the Netherlands National Team meant that no agreement could be reached over which bike Wild could ride, leaving her with no option but not to compete.
Both riders have competed in the omnium in the 2010-11 Track World Cup Series – in the Melbourne round in December, Vos came sixth, while in January, Wild was second. Wild’s silver medal followed the Rotterdam six-day, where she won eleven out of 18 women’s races to take the overall event.
The bike-off will take place behind closed doors in Alkmaar on February 10 and will be decided over performance in the individual events that make up an omnium - a flying lap, 500m TT and 3km Individual Pursuit.
After the track season, both riders will return to the road, where Vos also has big ambitions.
"My plan for the road season is ready; it doesn't depend on the outcome of the bike-off. It's only the two races on the track, Manchester and Apeldoorn, that I will do, or not.”
"With my team Nederland Bloeit, we want to go for the victory in every race we do, and for me personally, it's important to get further improvement in my time trial and sprint.
"It looks like the Worlds course suits the Dutchies and I hope we can benefit from all of our strong riders. Tactics will be more important on this course, but I'm sure it'll be an exciting race.”<