PONFERRADA, Spain (AFP) — Marianne Vos may have finished a disappointing 10th at the UCI World Road Championships road race on Saturday but her rivals still think she’s the woman to beat.
Olympic champion Vos has been largely invulnerable throughout her career, and in eight previous appearances at the worlds had never finished worse than second.
A three-time winner of the women’s Giro d’Italia and five-times World Cup champion, Vos has been a seven-time cyclocross world champ and an Olympic champion in 2008.
Yet despite being part of a four-woman breakaway over the top of the final climb in Ponferrada with just 3km to the line, she failed to turn that situation to her advantage and faded in an eventual sprint finish between 15 women.
But new champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of France said that result did not indicate a waning of Vos’s powers.
“I don’t think so, everybody wants to beat Marianne so I think it’s quite hard for her,” said the 22-year-old Ferrand-Prevot, who rides with Vos on the Rabo-Liv professional team. “I learned a lot from Marianne these last three years. It’s not a victory for her, but I think she’s also happy for me.”
Indeed, Ferrand-Prevot rode Vos’ wheel to victory when she struck for the line, just as she had done when she won the prestigious La Fleche Wallonne Feminine in April.
Sweden’s Emma Johansson, who took bronze in a photo-finish, also said Vos remained the woman to beat.
But Emma Johansson of Sweden, who was second to Vos last year and took a bronze behind Italy’s Giorgia Bronzini and Vos in 2010, said that while Vos can never be counted out, a result like this could only be good for women’s cycling.
“Marianne is a really strong and awesome rider, she can do everything,” said Johansson. “I think, actually, it might not be bad for women’s cycling to move around a bit, to have new, stronger, younger riders coming up.
“It’s nice to have someone else in that world champion’s jersey. I’m a bit surprised but she was up there and will still be strong.
“I’ve seen she’s beatable and that showed today. It’s good for us to see that’s possible, it’s very nice.”