The wonder of Vos
Chris Boardman rated it the race of the week and Marianne Vos was its shining star. Saturday’s road race wrapped up a good week for cycling’s women in Florence. Brian Cookson appointed the first female vice-president of the International Cycling Union in Tracey Gaudry of Australia on his first day in the job and hours later Vos won her second successive road-race rainbow jersey. The Dutch rider, who now has three road world titles and two Olympic gold medals, is one of the world’s greatest sportswomen.
Appearance matters 1
The sight of the women’s peloton sweeping along the Arno with the city of Florence and the Duomo was breathtaking. Next year the worlds will be in Ponferrada, Spain, but the UCI is keen to spread cycling so in 2015 it will go to Richmond in the US and in 2016 to Qatar. There are suggestions that will mean a switch to October because of the September heat, while a “hilly” course is being built in the desert. Will the sport be any richer, in a figurative rather than literal sense?
Appearance matters 2
The events of Friday morning inside the crenelated splendour of the Palazzo Vecchio as the UCI stumbled and bumbled through choosing a new president was a very public embarrassment for a sport that can ill-afford such a shaming. Afford is the word – cycling has been struggling to hang on to and attract sponsors and the election shambles will not have impressed would-be investors. At least there was regime change, but Cookson has a mighty job on.
In the genes
Saturday was a happy one for the orange hordes as the Dutch claimed both races. Before Vos’s triumph Mathieu van der Poel took the junior event. The 18-year-old is a rare prospect which should not really comes as a surprise since his father won two stages of the Tour de France and his grandfather finished on the podium eight times. Van der Poel was one of several teenagers to give note of bright futures. The 18-year-old Slovenian Matej Mohoric, was a confident winner of the Under-23 road race.
The riders may hate it, it makes life pretty miserable for the spectators and has a bruising impact on the race but there is a degree of guilty rubber-necking glee in watching elite sportsmen suddenly appear all too human in appalling conditions. Yesterday’s rain and wind made for an awful ride, possibly the worst weather conditions seen at a sporting event since Tiger Woods hacked his way to an 81 during the great Muirfield Saturday storm of 2002, but it made gripping, gruesome viewing.