Cyclist Vos adds 2nd road race world title to Olympic gold

Dutch rider Marianne Vos won the cycling world championships road race on Saturday in Valkenburg, Netherlands for the second time to add to her gold medal from the London Olympics.
Marianne Vos celebrates as she crosses the finish line. (Franck Fife/AFP/GettyImages)

Dutch Olympic champion Marianne Vos crowned a golden year with a dominant victory Saturday in the road race at the cycling world championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands.

Vos added her second world title to the Olympic gold she won in a downpour in London, victory in the cyclo-cross World Championship in January and her overall win in the women's Giro d'Italia after coming back from breaking her collar bone in May.

Vos powered away from a leading group of five riders on the final climb up the Cauberg to cross the line in front of thousands of cheering fans while waving a Dutch flag.

"In the last lap I thought, 'well this is the moment I can be world champion,"' Vos said.

"I only thought about going for an attack on the Cauberg," she added. "Of course it hurts, but it is only 1.5 kilometres to the finish so I just kept on pushing."

Montreal's Joelle Numainville was 13th, four minutes and 37 seconds behind Vos.

Winnipeg's Leah Kirchmann was 21st, 4:49 off the lead. Karol-Ann Canuel of Amos, Que., was 30th, also 4:49 behind Vos. Veronique Labonte (5:39) of La Guadeloupe, Que., finished 67th.

The victory brought to an end a heart-breaking string of five world championship silver medals for Vos, who won her first world title in 2006 in Salzburg, Austria.

"After five years getting silver it's a great feeling to get it again," Vos said.

Rachel Neylan of Australia was second, and Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy finished third.

Neylan was riding in her first world championships and said she was initially under instructions to support top Australian rider Tiffany Cromwell.

"I just did my job until it was time to focus on the result for myself," she said. Cromwell eventually finished 31st.

The race involved eight circuits of a 16.1-kilometre course around the hilly landscape of the southern Dutch province of Limburg including two short, sharp climbs — the 900-metre Bemelerberg and the famous Cauberg, a 1,200-metre hill with an average gradient of 5.8 per cent shortly before the finish line.

After avoiding an early crash that slowed several riders, Vos never looked in trouble and completed the 129-kilometre race in three hours 14 minutes 29 seconds.

Vos twice humbled the field on the Cauberg. She made her first important move at the end of the sixth circuit, sprinting clear from the main pack on the way up the hill to join teammate Anna van der Breggen in the leading group.

"It helps when you've done the Cauberg 100,000 times before," she said of racing on a circuit she knows like the back of her hand.

She then underscored that she was in a class apart this season by attacking again on the steepest section of the final climb. She left her main challengers standing and gave herself time to savour victory even as she crossed the line — and to begin enjoying her other victories this season, including the Olympic gold she has yet to really celebrate.

"The last weeks I focused only on this," she said. "I didn't think about the Olympic gold or other wins. I just wanted to have this. Now I can start to look back."