The AT50: Cycling Champ Marianne Vos (#23)
Sports: Cyclocross, Road Cycling, Track Cycling
Highlights: 6-time Cyclocross World Champion (2006, 2009-2013); UCI World Cup Champion (2007, 2009, 2010, 2012); UCI Road World Champion (2006, 2012), plus five straight second-place finishes (2007-2011); 2-time Olympic gold medalist in track points race (2008) and road racing (2012)
Quote: "I like to keep my wheels on the ground."
Fact: Vos began bicycle racing at the tender age of eight.
AT Point Total: 41
Marianne Vos is, simply put, an unstoppable force on skinny tires. Whether blazing down a road, tearing through a muddy cyclocross course or zipping around a track, chances are she's at the front of the pack. It helps more than a little that she got an early start in bike-crazy Holland. At the tender age of six, while she was still too young to race, Vos took up training with her older brother's team. By the time she was eight, she started her racing career. At 15, she won her first two national championships in mountain biking and junior road racing. She finished second in the national junior time trial.
That was just the beginning of a career that's included Olympic gold medals in track and road cycling, two world road racing championships (not to mention five second-place finishes) and six world championships in the Dutch-dominated discipline of cyclocross. For the uninitiated, cyclocross is a on-road/off-road cycling discipline in which riders navigate mud, grass, gravel, pavement, sand and mulch on a one- to two-mile circuit course, shouldering their cycles where terrain is too steep and wooden barriers block their path. It's grueling, and a far cry from the relatively controlled environment of road racing. Plenty of x-factors—snow, muddy hills, obstacles—can spoil one's race, which makes Vos's run all the more impressive. And she's done it all by the age of 25. Her career still has another decade or more left in it, and we can't wait to see what she does with it. Our bet? Win a whole lot more.