Non-stop Vos racks up fifth win at Flèche Wallonne
Dutch star says 2012 defeat helped drive her on to Worlds and Olympic success
After taking her fifth win in Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, Marianne Vos (Rabo-LivGiant) recognised that losing the same race last year was what spurred her on to Worlds and Olympic success.
"It was a key moment to be defeated here by Evelyn Stevens," the multiple World and Olympic Champion told reporters on Wednesday. "I was ill in Flanders, I was not really in top shape here, and I knew if I wanted to do well in the Olympics I would have to start rebuilding all over again. It was good to be able to bounce back.
"I think it was good for the rest of the season, in fact I never like to lose but from then on I started to focus as hard as I could on the Olympics."
Fast forward 12 months and with the gold from London's road-race in the bag, not to mention the Giro Donne and a superb win in Valkenburg last September in the road world championships, Vos said she is "more relaxed" when racing. "I enjoy it more."
The results keep coming, or as she put it "the book [her biography, which was published recently] has now got some more chapters". So far in 2013, Vos has put in some textbook racing, with a perfectly calculated first win in the Tour of Flanders, the one big event that had been lacking in her road palmares, preceding this fifth, equally clinical and seemingly effortless, victory in Flèche Wallonne. Her other wins here came in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011. At 25, the odds are this will not be the last.
"Every win is special but to win here a fifth time is really great, it's not getting any easier," she said. "As a big favourite, everybody looks to me and of course the team has to do a big job and they did it perfectly. I was feeling a bit tired, but I still had enough power to make a sprint effort on the Mur."
That is easier said than done, too, but Vos says when Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini) attacked, "we had to make sure we reeled her in because she was a good rider.
"Then Orica did a great lead for Emma Johansson right up until the Mur, and that was at really high speed. I had to focus hard on keeping a good position because it's so important on the Mur.
"I made an extra effort, which can kill your sprint and I remember coming up to Emma's wheel and thinking to myself 'this is going to hurt'."
However, when it comes to playing mind games and winning Vos knows exactly what to tell herself, which on the Mur de Huy on Wednesday was "'yes, but there's a fifth win at the end of it', and that was my motivation."
With no secrets on the climb after so many wins she also calculated things perfectly - again - saying "I knew from other years that even if you wait until 200 metres to go on the Mur it's going to take a lot out of you. So I waited and waited, and at 100 metres, I started sprinting." But if her rivals think that after her second big win of the season this means Vos will now ease back, odds are they should think again.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.