Marianne Vos won her third title in the road race at the world championships on Saturday and reinforced her status as the top rider in women’s cycling.
The Dutchwoman attacked on the final climb with about 5km to go and added to her titles from 2006 and last year.
“They always say it’s hard to win one, but to do two in a row is even more difficult,” Vos said.
It was her 13th gold at the worlds and Olympics spread between road cycling, track cycling and cyclo-cross.
New International Cycling Union (UCI) president Brian Cookson tweeted: “Congratulations (at)marianne_vos!! It’s never easy being the favourite, but she is in a league of her own. Superb ride and a great race.”
After nearly four hours chasing Vos along the 140km race route from Montecatini Terme to Florence, Emma Johansson of Sweden finished second, 15 seconds behind, and Rossella Ratto of Italy crossed third with the same time. Johansson also took the silver medal in the road race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
While the Dutch and Italians had multiple riders in the lead pack at the end, Johansson had to fend for herself.
“I was quite isolated,” she said. “My brain was working just as hard as my legs today.”
Ratto, 19, gave host Italy their first medal of the championships.
“Since the start of the day I heard the fans cheering for me and then I saw a lot more people pushing for me when we got into Florence,” Ratto said. “It’s going to take a while for this to sink in.”
The course concluded with five laps of a 16.5km hilly circuit in the Tuscan capital. Vos’ attack came on the steepest section of the course, with a gradient of 16 percent. She then went into time trial mode for the final few kilometers and had enough time to lift her arms and celebrate even before she crossed the finish line.
“Until the last lap, I didn’t feel too good,” Vos said. “On the long climb I wasn’t the best, but on the steep climb I knew I had a chance.”
Only two women have won more titles in this race. French great Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli won it a record five times between 1985 and 1995 and Belgian standout Yvonne Reynders took four victories from 1959 to 1966.