Marianne Vos, one year after winning the Olympics and World Championship, struck again. On the narrow and steep Via Salviati just outside of Florence, the Dutch cyclist rode away from her rivals and took another world title.
"It's great to defend the title," Vos explained in the pressroom. "They say it's hard to win one, and of course I did that before, but to do it two times in a row is even harder."
Vos won the rainbow jersey in 2006. Last year, just over a month after her London Olympic gold, she performed under pressure on home roads. This year, she played the numbers to do it again.
Emma Johansson (Sweden) and Rossella Ratto (Italy) also broke away on Via Salviati. They chased for the remaining 5.02 kilometres, keeping Vos at five to six seconds, but had to settle for silver and bronze, respectively.
"Everyone keeps asking me. How do you beat Vos?" said GB's Lizzie Armitstead, who placed 19th. "Just out-number, I guess. Just keep attacking her."
Her rivals tried. "The Italians and Americans made it a tough race," Vos added. "We thought, 'This is going to be hard, five laps'."
On the penultimate 16.57-kilometre circuit, with 30 of the 140.05-kilometre race remaining, attacks finally broke down the main pack. What was dangerous for Vos, was that she was up against three Italians, including Ratto. However, she had Anna Van Der Breggen.
"It was great to have Anna to respond to the attacks on the Fiesole climb. Thanks to her, I knew I had a chance to go on the last climb," Vos continued.
"She's been strong all season, I was not surprised she was there. We were with two, we had to cover three Italians and keep it together. I made my move on the steep climb but it was only when I saw the one-kilometre banner that I knew I had won another title."
Road World Championships 2013: Coverage index
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