After winning two rounds of the UCI World Cup in five days, Marianne Vos has overtaken her Nederland Bloeit teammate, Annemiek van Vleuten, to claim the World Cup leader’s jersey for the first time this year. The 23-year-old Dutch woman has won the World Cup three times, but the rigours of her 2011 season means winning it for a fourth time is not part of her plans this year.
Vos has been successfully balancing ambitions across three cycling disciplines, and has already won the 2011 World Championship titles in cyclo-cross and in the scratch race on the track. However, this has meant she has not stopped racing since December 2010, and so will miss the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup in China next month.
“From the cyclo-cross season, I went to the track season, and straight to the Classics, so I have to take a break somewhere! And that’s a shame, but otherwise I won’t be in shape at the [Road] Worlds,” she told the press conference after winning the Flèche Wallonne yesterday.
Like all the riders with track and road ambitions, Vos had to miss the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the first World Cup race of the season, due to the overlap with the Track World Championships at the end of March. She rode and won the Park Hotel Rooding Hill Classic on the day after she won her scratch title, and a week later came third in the Women’s Tour of Flanders, the second World Cup in the season.
This week has been a particular highlight for her – on Saturday she won her first Ronde van Drenthe, the Dutch round of the World Cup, and yesterday she became the first rider to win the Flèche Wallonne Féminine four times.
But although she won’t be riding the next World Cup, she hopes to keep the leader’s jersey within the team.
“I hope Annemiek takes it next time in China. I won’t be there, that’s a shame, of course,” she said. “We’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing with the team, and we hope to get some more victories, and in the end we hope to have won the jersey.”
Van Vleuten currently sits second in the World Cup standings, with 158 points, 13 points ahead of her nearest rival, Emma Johansson of Hitec Products UCK. Van Vleuten was series leader after winning the Tour of Flanders, and with one of the strongest teams behind her, will have a good chance of winning the competition.
Meanwhile, Vos will ride a few more races in April, and then take May off to recover. Her next big goals are the Netherlands National Championships in June, the women’s Giro (the only ten-day women’s stage race left on the calendar) in July and the Road World Championships in Copenhagen, where she’ll be aiming to add an eighth World Championship title to her ever-growing collection.
After that, she will have to make some big decisions about what she’ll race in 2012.
In 2008 she won the Olympic gold medal in the points race on the track, and her current ambitions include aiming for a spot on the Dutch Olympic track team, competing in the omnium. However, with the wealth of talent the Netherlands has to draw from, this will not be easy. Kirsten Wild (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) took the coveted spot in the team at this year’s Track World Championships, after beating Vos in a bike-off to decide who got to ride. Wild came away from the championships with the silver medal.
Vos has frequently spoken about her love for cyclo-cross, but she might need to reduce her schedule.
“It’s difficult; next winter I have to make choices. I always have to make choices in my plans, in my training, and in my race plan. If you include the Olympics, it’s much more pressure and you have to be fresh and focused. And so this winter is going to be pressured”
For now, she will continue to focus on the Road, and could be the first rider to be World champion in cyclo-cross, track and road in the same year. With her successes so far, it feels like anything is possible.
UCI Road World Cup races 2011
March 27th: Trofeo Alfredo Binda (Italy)
April 4th: Women’s Tour of Flanders (Belgium)
April 16th: Ronde van Drenthe (Netherlands)
April 20th: Flèche Wallonne (Belgium)
May 15th: Tour of Chongming Island World Cup (China)
June 5th: GP Ciudad de Valladolid (Spain)
July 27th: Open de Suède Vargarda Team Time Trial (Sweden)
July 31st: Open de Suède Vargarda Road Race (Sweden)
August 27th: GP de Plouay (France)