Zdenek Stybar conquers his third cyclo-cross World Championship

This blog is a space for minor sports and underground stories that are not usually launched in the main streams. In my humble opinion, cyclo-cross is the most amazing of the unknown sports. Although it is the little brother of cycling, there are few sports so exciting and thrilling, with riders fighting face to face riding full gas for an hour in a circuit full of mood, obstacles and mechanical.

Yesterday took place the World Championship in Hoogerheide, a race traditionally dominated by Belgians and riders from other mid-European countries. Nederlands, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Cchec Republic have little tradition in this sport and only a few of them can snatch to Belgian rider a place in the Top 10.

Sven Nys was the favourite, all the more since Niels Albert crashed during the morning training and injured his wrist. The World Cup winner, the 23 years-old Lars Van der Haar had not been consistent in during the last couple of weeks and Zdenek Stybar, who had barely ridden on the mood this season, focused in his road race career, was not thought to beat Nys, that lately had mastered the final part of the season.

(Watch the highlights of the race)

But as laps passed, Nys rivals had to give up due to his strong pace and only Zdenek Stybar catch up and stuck at his wheel. The passed the last lap together and when everybody expected Nys’s attack and Stybar’s surrender, it occurred quite the contrary, Stybar, who had been pushing during the whole race, as it is usual in such a brave rider, struggled for the ultimate push and got some metres that Nys was not longer able to chase.

Both had won the World Championship twice, but a memorable race end up with the greatest cyclocrossman of the history giving up against a top class rider that had ridden little during the winter season.

The Cannibal Queen carries on her dictatorship

The female category brought us another exhibition from the greatest female rider of the history, both in race and in the mood. Marianne Vos did not give any chances for her rivals and dominated the whole race, all by herself since the first lap, to win her sixth world Championship in a row and seventh overall. She is only 26 years old. Needles to say how outstanding and one of a kind is this Dutch rider that every year continues widening her legend.

(Watch the full race)

The cannibal queen

Source: Cyclingnews.com

In cycling the nickname “cannibal” is usually given to those outstanding riders who are dominant during a long period in which no victory seems to fulfil them. They keep winning over and over again until their rivals get absolutely hopeless. Eddy Mercks and Sven Nys where nicknamed this way when they started winning endlessly and established a sport dictatorship in their respective period.

At 25, Marianne Vos already deserves to be given that nickname. If it possible Vos is a more complete cannibal that the before mentioned two riders, as she has dominate the whole women’s cycling: cyclo-cross, track and road. Just taking a look at her list of relevant victories can you realize who is Marianne Vos, without a doubt one of the most dominant athletes of the history of sport. To compare her with Eddy Mercks is more than right, moreover at this point I try to think whether the Belgian would have ever won titles in other disciplines of cycling and, at the same time, be so dominant in road cycling. And that  seems quite unlikely.

Vos has demonstrate not only having talent and physical capacity to beat their rivals, but to be capable of overcoming her own limits to get victories that for any reason offered her more resistance. That is the case, for example, of the Giro Donne, a race that she was determined to win and has already won twice. She had to lose weight to improve her climbing skills and perform better in the tough roads of Italian ascents. So she did, and she won the race.

She neither gave up when she seem to be incapable of winning the rainbow jersey again, trying to repeat her succes in 2006. Until last September 2012, she waited patiently although winning the silver medal five times in a row. She waas obliged to be close to the rider that every year during a five-year period was taking the world best rider’s jersey, just a step higher than her in the podium, when everyone believed the victory must be hers. She end up retaking the jersey thanks to a impressive attack climbing the Cauberg, an acceleration that will remain for many years in the cycling lovers’ memory.

When the winter comes the temperature drops down and most of the riders, both women and men, tend to hibernate, hiding from the flashes, selecting a good place for recovering and then start training for the next season, but she doesn’t stop at all. It is cyclo-cross time, the discipline in which Marianne has won more world champion titles, five, in overall 6 participations. Thus during winter Vos increases her number of victories, with her distinctive smile and those appealing blue eyes in her muddy face, hands up, and her first rival more than a minute behind. That is the most repeated image in the races that Vos takes part.

Source: cxmagazine

As said before, Vos has dominated road, cyclocross and track cycling. I haven’t mentioned the other great discipline of cycling, the mountain bike, because she only competed in mountain bike in her early years. And, of course, she won the national championship. But this discipline will not miss Vos’s talent any more, because she stated that she will compete in Rio 2016 for trying to win a medal. She has already won Olympic medals in both road and track cycling and if she accomplishes her new goal, she will achieve an unbeatable feat: no other rider has ever won 3 medals in three cycling disciplines. And, certainly, many years will pass until any other is near of such a feat, as it seems unconceivable, at least in men’s cycling, where is impossible for any rider to combine succesfully such different disciplines.

Where are her limits? She is now 25 and if she continues in the way of the last years, maybe in 5 years to come we will be talking about one of the greatest athletes of the history and the best female athlete ever. She is not as highly regarded as she deserves due to two main reasons: she is a woman and, unfortunately, our society doesn’t take much into account female athletes and she is a cyclist, a sport that due to doping scandals has been despised by the world of sport and media.

In any case, I believe that Vos deserves to be mentioned in this humble blog due to her contribution to the world of sport and I think there was not a better way to show my respect  and my admiration that dedicate her a post.