Dutch rider thrives under pressure
When Marianne Vos crossed the line in Hoogerheide to win her seventh UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship title in her home country, it appeared as if it could have been her first. Suppressing tears on the podium. It is clear Vos invests a lot of emotion into every one of her wins, even if it was her sixth in a row. At only 26 years of age, Vos could not believe it was her seventh title already.
"I don’t want to choose between one of my titles. The first one was great and in the Netherlands, the second one was here in Hoogerheide, too. It’s incredible. I can’t believe that I already won seven world titles. I didn’t think about it during the race. Every year you have to prove yourself," Vos said at the post-race press conference in the town hall of Hoogerheide.
It’s a question Vos gets asked quite a lot but when you see her racking up the wins one can’t avoid to ask it. What keeps you going?
"I just like the sport. I like the pressure at the big races, especially in your own country. Everything has to come together in one day."
Managing form and nerves, and banking on a bit of luck on that important day takes talent. It’s something that her rival World Cup winner Katie Compton lacked on Saturday. Before the race everybody was expecting a duel between Vos and Compton but the latter was unable to fight along in front.
Vos was sympathetic to the World Cup champion's plight. "I just wanted the title but of course everybody expected a battle. She really had a strong season. I had a tough time trying to follow her in a few races. It’s a shame she had trouble already early on with Pavla Halikova." Compton and Havlikova collided and needed some time to untangle their bikes. "After her season she should have been on the podium but that’s the world championships. You want to be good at this single race."
Vos put on a one-women show in Hoogerheide, distancing the rest by more than a minute. She made it seem easy, but that wasn't the case. It’s not the racing that turns out to be the hardest thing for Vos, it’s staying motivated; avoiding resting on her laurels.
"Every year it’s getting harder. Doing it again makes it hard for me. I have to keep challenging myself. It’s great to be the best and have the jersey. This year I had a tough season. The others are working hard to get closer."
When looking ahead Vos was asked about her ambitions for the Olympics. Vos has ambitions on the road, track and mountain bike. At the London Olympics she won the gold medal in the road discipline after an epic race. "I focus on the road after London. It was fantastic and I want defend my title," Vos said. So will she do mountain biking? "It would be fantastic to do both."
"Now I have to rest. I’m getting older," Vos claimed. Resting is not in her nature though. It showed when she shortened her mid-season break from cyclo-cross to take part in the World Cup of Namur. "I always want to do the whole season and do every race I can."
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