So you’ve just won a race that has been renamed in your honour and your unprecedented athletic achievements, beating many of your strongest rivals and delighting your adoring home fans in the process. What do you do the following day? Sleep? Kick back with a few beers and a well-earned takeaway?
If you’re Marianne Vos, you go to another race and win that one, too.
Vos’ second victory of the weekend was a glorious one, too, because it’s fought out over almost 140km (the maximum allowed under UCI rules) and features some of the toughest climbs in cycling, including the ludicrously steep Kapelmuur which has cobbles like stone steps, reaches a gradient of 20% and, says COTACOL, is the hardest climb in Flanders, a region noted and notorious among cyclists for its hard climbs. As if that wasn’t enough, Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik is among the most prestigious one-day races in women’s cycling, so she had to beat some of the most capable climbers, speedy sprinters and accomplished all-rounders, including Emma Johansson of Orica-AIS who, as the only rider currently able to consistently challenge Vos for supremacy, is ranked number one in the world.
As predicted, the climbs caused serious issues for many riders and 59- considerably over half the field of 104 – did not finish. However, while they crossed the finish line split into groups, the gaps between them were not as great as might have been expected: the last rider to finish, British Lucy Garner of Giant-Shimano (who had come second behind Vos at the Marianne Vos Classic the previous day) was in the main group only 28″ behind the winner. Vos finished in 3h41’40” with Johansson (who had won the Boels Rental Hills Classic two days earlier) right behind her to take second place with an equal time. Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) also matched Vos’ time for third place, followed by Johansson’s team mate Loes Gunnewijk in fourth place 8″ later. An 18″ gap separated Gunnewijk from Longo Borghini’s team mate the specialist climber, fifth-placed Ashleigh Moolman; while their team’s top sprinter Chloe Hosking led the main group of 40 riders in 2″ later and 28″ behind Vos.
1 Marianne VOS (Rabo-Liv) 3:41:40 80 80
2 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) ST
3 Elisa LONGO BORGHINI (Hitec Products) ST
4 Loes GUNNEWIJK (Orica-AIS) +08″
5 Ashleigh MOOLMAN-PASIO (Hitec Products) +26″
6 Chloe HOSKING (Hitec Products) +28″
7 Kelly DRUYTS (TopSport Vlaanderen-ProDuo) ST
8 Liesbet DE VOCHT (Lotto-Belisol) ST
9 Christine MAJERUS (Boels-Dolmans) ST
10 Amy PIETERS (Giant-Shimano) ST