Not content with winning the women’s Fleche Wallone on Wednesday Marianne Vos hopped on a plane and flew out to the west coast of the United States to take part in the Sea Otter Classic races. The Sea Otter event is one of the traditional curtain raisers for the mountain bike season made more high profile as the event used by the industry to showcase new models and innovation via their teams and riders. After collapsing onto her bars after winning up the climb of Mur de Huy most onlookers could be forgiven for thinking that the prospect of a transatlantic flight and less than two days recovery would have prevented Vos from competing let alone winning the short track event in California.
Not unfavourably compared to Eddy Merckx for her amazing palmares Marianne Vos is a throwback to the days when professional racers expected to take part and were expected to do well in all types of races rather than the specialists seen today. While it’s true that the women’s pro tour does not feature stage races equivalent in length to the grand tours the men race there is enough variety in the parcours the women race over to allow some specialists to emerge like Kirsten Wild.
Vos is special because she is strong across a range of disciplines and not just her ability to climb and sprint (among other strengths she has) within road racing. Where Merckx was nicknamed ‘The Cannibal’ because of a need to win for Vos it’s more that she enjoys winning.
A key rival and last years winner at Fleche Evie Stevens of Specialized Lululemon was missing from the race this year due to injury but the rider who is emerging a potential threat to the Vos train this year and in the longer term is Trofeo Alfredo Binda winner Elisa Longo Borghini who finished on the podium here.
VCSE has secured some footage of Marianne at Sea Otter. It’s a little light on race action (the track itself doesn’t look especially challenging) but you can judge for yourself how well she copes with jet lag!