Sunday, 29 January 2012

CX Worlds Results - Vos triumphant

It's been said that Marianne Vos versus the rest of the world is not as uneven a match as it at first appears (except to those who have followed her career and know that the world doesn't stand a chance). The 24-year-old Dutch cycling phenomenon proved this to be the case once again today with a record fifth World Cyclo Cross Championship on the challenging Koksijde sand dunes, breaking away early and leaving the rest of the pack to battle it out for the silver and bronze medals. Incredibly, she was not at her best - sand is not her ideal habitat and she revealed after the race that she hadn't been feeling 100%; but Vos running at 75% remains devastatingly effective. She rode with Sanne Van Paassen for a short while, then gained a lead and kept building on it by powering up the dunes with a slightly fudged dismount and late bike change having little impact on the ultimate outcome. Having now won five times, she becomes the joint second most successful rider in the history of the cyclo cross World Championships alongside André Dufraisse and Renato Longo - Erik de Vlaeminck is first with seven (but Marianne's only 24 - she has time to top that).

Daphny Van Den Brand is noticeably a better rider on this parcours, looking far more at home on sand than Vos though she can't match her for power; her technical skill allowed her to take a very well-deserved second place 37 seconds down. Sanne Cant also rode well, despite falling on a corner,  and crossed the line just a second after Van Den Brand.

Britain's Helen Wyman says she's been working on improving her starts and the fruits of her labours were very much evident today - she was fastest away from the start line and led into the first corner before being caught by the mighty Dutch and Belgians at the first dune. An unpleasant-looking crash later in the race sent her face-first over the handlebars, but she was back onboard and making up for lost time within seconds; unscathed but for a mouthful of sand. Unfortunately, she couldn't quite take the top ten finish that British fans were anticipating - luckily, Nikki Harris was there to take responsibility and finished a very impressive 6th, while Wyman took 13th..

The sight of Caroline Mani and Sophie de Boer, both initially feared to have sustained broken bones after a crash in the early part of last week's final World Cup round at Hoogerheide, will have been a welcome one for all fans of the sport regardless of their nationality. However, this race was not without upset - in a post-race interview, a UCI official caused controversy and disbelief by asking Vos if she felt that she was "killing the sport" by winning too many races: a question that many fans have declared insensitive out of a very reasonable belief that she should be allowed to celebrate her achievement.

The question was also stupid. Did Eddy Merckx kill cycling? Did Sean Kelly kill Paris-Nice? Did Lance kill the Tour? Of course not - each of them, through their excellence, brought new fans. Each, through their dominance, forced other riders to improve their own performances in order to match them - and men's cycling benefited. Now Vos is doing the same for her sport; and with the likes of Pat McQuaid claiming after the World Road Race Championship that women's cycling is insufficiently developed for female riders to deserve equal pay to their male counterparts, Vos' reign can only be a good thing - just as Beryl Burton was good for women's time trial racing in Britain. Helen Wyman summed things up perfectly last week when she said, "Despite missing two rounds, [she] has shown that she’s pretty much the standard setter for us all and we all need to raise our games."

Bring it on, Marianne. By winning so much, you're breathing new life into women' cycling. The sport needs you - and long may your reign continue.

Elite Women

  1 Marianne Vos Rabobank Ladies Team 00:41:04
  2 Daphny Van Den Brand WV Schijndel 00:37
  3 Sanne Cant Boxx VeldritAcademie 00:38
  4 Sanne Van Paassen Brainwash 00:49
  5 Katherine Compton Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team 00:53
  6 Nikki Harris 01:03 (best British rider)
  7 Sophie De Boer WV Schijndel 01:05
  8 Katerina Nash 01:11
  9 Jasmin Achermann 01:12
  10 Lucie Chainel-Lefevre 01:54
  11 Pavla Havlikova 02:43
  12 Sabrina Stultiens Brainwash ST
  13 Helen Wyman 02:45
  14 Christine Majerus Team GSD Gestion 02:46
  15 Linda Van Rijen Skil - 1t4i 02:52
  16 Arenda Grimberg 03:01
  17 Gesa Bruchmann 03:30
  18 Caroline Mani 03:36
Best-placed British rider Nikki Harris
(image credit: CC BY 2.0)
  19. Nicole Duke 03:40
  20 Meredith Miller 03:54
  21 Olga Wasiuk 04:52
  22 Martina Mikulaskova 05:04
  23 Amy Dombroski Cranckbrothers 05:21
  24 Joyce Vanderbeken 05:34
  25 Kajsa Snihs 05:39
  26 Kaitlin Antonneau Exergy Twenty12 05:41
  27 Rocio Gamonal 05:43
  28 Sabrina Maurer 05:56
  29 Nikoline Hansen 06:19
  30 Asa Maria Erlandsson 06:34
  31 Alice Maria Arzuffi 06:55
  32 Ayako Toyooka 00:01
  33 Sakiko Miyauchi ST
  34 Lise-Marie Henzelin ST -
  35 Genevieve Whitson Asptt Dijon - Bourgogne 00:02 - -
  36 Madara Furmane ST


  1. Someone with that cycling and human talent cannot but improve the sport!!! Interviewers should think twice before coming up with these questions, honestly

  2. Bit of a moronic question really, wasn't it? But then, you can rely on the UCI to completely fail to understand everything conected to women's cycling.