Olympic champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands crowned a golden year with a dominant victory on Saturday in the road race at the cycling world championships.
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 1.5km to the finish, so I just kept on pushing.”
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 16.1km course around the hilly landscape of Limburg Province, including two short, sharp climbs — the 900m Bemelerberg and the famous Cauberg, a 1,200m hill with an average gradient of 5.8 percent shortly before the finish line.
After avoiding an early crash that slowed several riders, Vos never looked in trouble and completed the 129km race in 3 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 savor 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.”