When it comes to the women’s road race at the Cycling World Championships, Marianne Vos is the undisputed favorite.
The Dutchwoman has finished either first or second in each of the past seven years and is again expected to be on one of the top two steps of the podium after today’s 140km race from Montecatini Terme to Florence.
Vos first inspected the course in March and she liked what she saw. The route concludes with five laps of a hilly circuit in Florence, meaning the steep climb to the scenic town of Fiesole overlooking Florence will be ascended five times.
“I like it. It’s really hard. That’s going to be good for the race, because the best [riders] will end up in front for the finish,” Vos said before official on-course training on Thursday. “I hope to be there. For sure it’s going to be a real good champion.”
Vos won this race in Salzburg, Austria, in 2006 and again last year before her home fans in Valkenburg. She was also runner-up five straight times from 2007 to 2011. She won the road race at the London Olympics and has world and Olympic titles in cyclo-cross and track cycling. So who can challenge her?
“The whole Italian squad is very strong,” Vos said. “They have several cards to play. Then there are some individuals and the Americans.”
Italians have won the race four times in the last six years. Maria Bastianelli won it in 2007, Tatiana Guderzo in 2009 and Giorgia Bronzini in 2010 and 2011.