Marianne Vos has won nearly every bike race she’s entered. How will she fare against the boys and Danica? © Nathan Hofferber
2013 Cyclocross World Champion Marianne Vos, after adding one of the last remaining titles that has eluded her by sprinting to the win at the 2013 Tour of Flanders on Sunday, has already set her sights on the next phase of her career. “Don’t be alarmed!,” Vos told told Het Nieuwsblad.be. “I’m still first and foremost a bike racer, but it’s time for me to also look at new challenges and the second phase of my career. After meeting car racing superstar Danica Patrick at a Yahoo! Eurosport award event for women athletes, we hit it off and she’s convinced me to give car racing a go.”
“Danica and I have a lot in common actually,” said Vos. “We both love speed, we both got started in racing against the boys at an early age, and believe it or not, we both like fine clothes and getting dressed up once in awhile, but it’s just that in public most of you see me in only my rainbow-striped garments.”
When asked about the allure of auto racing, Vos explained that while the potential earning power is attractive, it’s the ability to compete with men that ultimately helped her decide to give NASCAR a go in 2014. “Danica probably earns more shooting one TV ad than I’ve earned in my entire lifetime, and if I ever got to that level, I won’t complain, but everyone knows money isn’t a big motivation for me … If it was, I obviously wouldn’t be a bike racer, since us women earn so little,” she explained. “But anyone can see from lap times in cyclocross that on a good day I can mix it up with the best men.” Vos’ isn’t exaggerating either, and while it’s true she enjoyed faster, more frozen conditions in Louisville, her lap times were faster than every American male racer and would have easily landed her on the podium in a 40 minute men’s race.
“The UCI won’t let me race with the men, and the men wouldn’t be happy with me in the race either,” said Vos. “But Danica has paved the way for women in both open wheel racing and NASCAR in terms of being competitive and earning potential, and after enjoying my training in Texas and racing in Louisville, I’m pretty excited to race more in the States.”
Danica Patrick a role model for Marianne Vos despite winning only one race? The allure of motor sports and racing with the men is that strong for Vos. © David_Shankbone, flickr
The news may seem shocking to cycling fans who have appreciated Vos’ unrivaled (among men or women) dominant streak, but one just has to remember the greatest athletes of their generation (clean or not) switch sports, with Michael Jordan leaving a dynasty when he made the jump to baseball, or Lance Armstrong dabbling in mountain biking and Xterra triathlon in his post-cancer comeback. And not all “experiments” by such dominant athletes have been unsuccessful! Winning racer Katerina Nash hopped off her skis to the be one of the best mountain bike racers and cyclocrossers, and MTB World Cup winner Cadel Evans got skinny to win the Tour de France and the road World Championships. But switching from an aerobic sport to a combustion-based one is rare, although not unprecedented, as three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond made a similar leap in 1996, but without major results.
Asked about her expectations for her first year of racing in 2014, she said it came down to two simple things. “Assuming I find a sponsor, I basically hope to follow Danica’s career, with two major differences,” she revealed. “First, even though I love swimming and am comfortable in a swimsuit, I don’t think I’ll spend nearly as much time as her in a swimsuit, especially in front of cameras,” she added, referring to Patrick’s modeling and GoDaddy.com commercials. “And after looking up Danica’s Wikipedia page, I hope if I ever become as famous as her, it’s because I’ve won more than a single race. I’ve kinda grown to like winning.”
[Ed. note: This was one of a handful of stories posted on April 1 for a little April Fools' fun.]