If you stop following cyclocross after US Nationals, you may miss the few appearances of Netherlander Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) and her famously rainbow-striped jersey.
Although she had just come off an abbreviated cyclocross season to include the World and European Championship titles, a silver at Dutch Nationals, and 10 total wins out of 16 contested (including three World Cups), keeping her from showing up to the early season races is her finely-tuned juggling of multiple cycling disciplines. She may be three-time cyclocross world champion, but her two World titles on the road, her one on the track as well as her Olympic gold are surely proof that the juggling pays off.
With Track Olympics coming up in 2012, don’t expect to see Vos until the end of December – a full three months later than the start of her competitors. And a mere one month after ther is her last race of the cyclocross season: the World Championships in Sankt Wendel, Germany. Vos explains, “These winter track races are important to qualify for the Olympics. There are two new disciplines on the schedule which I will try to go for, the Omnium and the Team Pursuit.” In true Vos modesty, she adds, “First I have to figure out the best way for me to train for these disciplines. Then I have to fight for a spot on the National Team.”
As her current road season indicates, she is on target to achieve her goals on the track. So far, her successes on the road include a National Time Trial title, a silver in the National Road Race, and two stage wins at the Giro (as well as three days in pink as well as the points and best young rider jersey awards). She currently tops the UCI road rankings and is the World Cup leader. Her two objectives for the end of road season are to keep her World Cup lead and win her last road race – the World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.
As for her plans following the World Championships, Vos says, “For the first time in a few years I’ll take a longer rest. I hope to stay in Australia for some weeks to see the country. In November I’ll start with my track training and preparation for the races.”
Fully aware of the consequences of her decisions, Vos keeps her ambitions in check. “With only one month of ’cross racing it’s not possible to go for any ranking. I want to be good in every race I do, but my focus will be on Worlds.”
As for juggling burnout – a real enemy, especially for the younger racers – Vos’ solution exemplifies a maturity well past her 23 years of age. “During my season, I don’t refuse myself of doing things outside of cycling. Of course, I watch myself, but I go out sometimes when I want to and have fun with friends.” While we may not see much of her in the ’cross season this year, her level-headedness at least assures us that the chances are high for her to continue with racing – and her successful ways – for many years to come!