There was no lucky world title number seven in a row for Marianne Vos at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tábor, Czech Republic today. Still feeling the effects of a lingering hamstring injury aggravated at the Dutch championships, Vos was unable to match the pace of teammate Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, who out-sprinted Belgian Sanne Cant to win the rainbow jersey.
"If you're the reigning champion, you obviously want to win the title, but I did my best," Vos said to De Telegraaf.
There have only been 16 World Championship races for women in cyclo-cross, and Vos holds seven of those titles, having won her first elite race when she was fresh out of the junior ranks in 2006. In addition to her seven gold medals, and today's bronze, she has a silver medal from 2008.
After almost a decade of dominance, Vos showed that she was vulnerable last year, when she uncharacteristically missed out on the medals in the UCI Road World Championship road race, also to Ferrand-Prévot. She revealed this week that she has been suffering from a leg injury that was exacerbated on a heavy Dutch championship course which required a lot of running. She almost chose to skip today's race, but ultimately decided to take the start.
"I'm glad I was part of the world championship fight. This is an excellent result," she said of her third place. "I wanted to try. I thought, 'I'll see how it goes'."
Vos rode well in the first laps of the race, making the first chase group that emerged on the early laps together with Ferrand-Prévot, Cant, Nikki Harris (Great Britain) and Katerina Nash (Czech Republic). The five chased behind early attacker Lucie Chainel-Lefevere, and Vos, finding herself in a tactical disadvantage to the French team, was forced to chase, putting Ferrand-Prévot into a perfect position to counter-attack.
Vos has now lost both of her world titles to her Rabo-Liv trade teammate, but painted a bright picture on the situation.
"If someone else was going to win, I prefer it to be Pauline. It's nice to work with her," Vos said. "Pauline now has both of the rainbow jerseys, and I can look at their beauty all year."