She’s not anymore the dominant force that she used to be, but Marianne Vos still wins races, and when she does, she leaves her mark. The Dutch rider became the new European Champion by winning the elite road race of the Euro Road Cycling Champs in Herning, Denmark, and thus getting her most important victory so far this season.
The Dutch riders were very aggressive since the start and managed to make a race of attrition even if the parcours looked very easy on paper. Attack after attack, many short-lived breakaways were formed, always including some orange jersey. But the key moment happened about 25 kilometres to the finish, when Vos herself, Giorgia Bronzini and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Sheyla Gutiérrez (Spain), Kasia Pawlowska (Poland), Charlotte Becker (Germany) and Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia) joined forces in front of the race.
The main peloton didn’t react immediately, allowing their gap to grow close to one minute. And when they did, it was already too late. The front group got smaller as the finish line was coming closer. Gutiérrez was dropped on a straigh road with strong wind, and when Pawlowska touched wheels with Zabelinskaya and crashed, Becker was caught behind and couldn’t join the leaders again.
Longo Borghini, the slowest of the Italians, sacrificed herself for Bronzini, who was hoping to beat Vos yet again in a championships race, as she did in the 2010 and 2011 Worlds. But that was not going to happen today. The attack of Zabelinskaya 1000 metres to the line turned out to be a perfect leadout for the Dutchwoman. Bronzini waited patiently on Vos’ wheel, but when the latter started her sprint it was already too late to overcome her. Vos was able to keep more than half a bike length ultil the finish, and the race was done. A worthy bearer of the European Champion jersey!