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Vos on yet another world title: ‘The pressure gets higher every year’

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (VN) — You can be forgiven if you assumed that a sixth rainbow jersey in cyclocross wouldn’t be a big deal for Marianne Vos.

However, the Dutch rider, who has won five straight world cyclocross championships — on top of a pair of world road titles, Olympic gold on the road track, and five road World Cup titles — said Saturday that every world title is a major achievement to be celebrated.

The runaway winner of the elite women’s race in Louisville, 94 seconds ahead of American Katie Compton, said afterward that she’d “really wanted the rainbow jersey again.”

“For me, the pressure gets higher every year,” Vos said. “Everyone expects me to win, but I was very nervous at the start. It’s not as easy for me to win as everyone thinks. I rode hard for it. I really wanted to win the rainbow jersey again, partly because I know everyone expects it.

“Being the world champion is an amazing feeling. It’s a little different because it’s in America, it was overseas for the first time, but it is a special feeling in the end — it’s the same bike race, with the same racers, and it’s a world championship.”

Only 25, another world title adds to Vos’ status as the most decorated female bike racer of all time, and, for the moment, an athlete without peer.

Vos is not without rivals, such as Compton in cyclocross, American Evelyn Stevens in the mountains, and Italian Giorgia Bronzini in bunch sprints; she is, however, the most well rounded cyclist the sport has seen since “The Merckx Era” of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Asked by VeloNews what might continue to motivate her, given all of her accomplishments, Vos replied, “I still want to improve myself. I work for that every day. I like winning, and I can’t stand losing. If that happens, I start to work even harder. I am 25 and I hope to continue a few more years, and with this motivation, I can continue.”

Vos said that after her historic Olympic-worlds double last summer, she took a vacation and took time for self-reflection. Her future goals include a return to mountain biking — a discipline in which she won four straight junior national titles a decade ago — with an eye on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio di Janeiro.

“My Olympic season was hard, and demanding,” Vos said. “I took a holiday and asked myself what do I want more, and the answer I got was that I want to have fun on the bike.”

Given her stellar performance in Louisville on Saturday, it’s clear Vos is fulfilling her goal. The rest of the women’s field, however, must continue to rise to the challenge, while also accepting that it is riding in what is quickly becoming “The Vos Era,” which shows no limits, and no end in sight.