Marianne Vos is arguably the greatest cyclist of all time. No other rider, not even Eddy Merckx, has dominated across all of cycling’s disciplines as she has. But when you have won all that you can how do you stay motivated? Simple, says Vos. “I like winning, and I can’t stand losing.”
She is only 25, but Vos already has a trophy room that looks like Ali Baba’s cave, filled with prizes from her amazing career to date. With her two Olympic gold medals from the 2012 road race and 2008 points race are rainbow jerseys from two road race championships, and now six elite ‘cross Worlds titles after Louisville. She has had national titles in the time trial, road race, mountain biking, cyclo-cross and track, and piles and piles of awards from her various road victories.
The one item most prized is her Olympic medal from London. After coming sixth in Beijing, she poured all of her focus into the 2012 Games. The monk-like existence of an Olympic athlete was punctuated only by an untimely fractured collarbone last May, but the incident never stopped her singular focus.
Once she had achieved her goal, Vos told Cyclingnews she was surprised by the how much she was in demand by the media.
“I thought after Beijing it couldn’t get much bigger, but after London I’ve been so busy – all the interviews with media, television. It’s cool, but it’s hard to stay in the normal rhythm for an athlete.”
“I took a holiday and asked myself what do I want more, and the answer I got during my holidays was to have fun on the bike.”
“When cyclo-cross season started, I wanted to have good preparation and go for it 100 per cent again. I said OK, I won’t do anything else, not too much, because I need my rest and I need proper training to be good in Louisville.”
Now that she has achieved her goal, the only unconquered territory is mountain biking. She has a national title from her junior years, but she quickly abandoned the summer discipline for the road, and claimed her first elite world championship at 18.
Vos will now return to putting down base miles for her road season, where the world championships in Florence, Italy will be her major goal. But before she gets to work crushing spirits on the skinny tires, she has decided to dabble in the world of knobbies.
“I’ll do the normal road schedule, and add some mountain biking to get something new after the Olympics. I’ll start at the Cyprus Sunshine Games in March,” she said.
Will she try to compete at the elite level, perhaps taking in a World Cup or two? “It’s not on the program yet, I will try to qualify for one of them in July or August. It would be pretty cool; it’s a new challenge. I’ve done a beach mountain bike race last month, and it was cool to do something different.”
With unwavering commitment to her sport, Vos will continue to fight for victories for several more years, and she confirmed to Cyclingnews that she intends to go to Rio for the next Olympic Games in 2016.
“It’s such an amazing experience to go and race for your country. But it’s a long time to focus on. In the meantime I’ll see how things go on the mountain bike. I know I need to work on my technical skills. I’m looking forward to see how far I can get with that.”