"So close but yet so far!" It's a well known phrase in English.

The Netherlands nearly man, Mark Vos. Champion cyclist, he was not just within one single race but a cycling career away from donning the famous orange colours of Holland. 

Nearing the top of his chosen sport of cycling, he is a man who could have turned his hand to any activity. This one time cycling cyclone was hit the mountain heights before being knocked off track with the news that he had colitis and would have to eventually have a Stoma...

Born 1976 in northern Netherlands, Mark's life was all about soccer, skating, swimming and cycling. 

Sitting in a sun-decked cafe in south east Spain, Mark reflects on being spotted from the age of twelve: "My parents saw talent in me."

From then on it was sport, sport and more sport: "I did swimming races next to my soccer training and matches." And very soon speed ice-skating was added to his list of outlets. 

even when simply enjoyinh himself, he was noticeable in his gifts: "When we could not skate outside on frozen lakes, we skated indoor. In summer all the skaters trained on roadbikes. That summer they asked me if I wanted to join. From that moment I fell in love with cycling. Soon I joined a race team." 

And this wasn't just any team, soon they became Dutch champions in 1996.

And then, one year later, the slow desent started: "In 1997 I got ill. first the doctors could not find what was wrong with me. After almost four months of checks, and a lot of hospital visits, they found out I had Crohn's disease.

"For this they gave me medication. After a month, it was already Christmas. I got very sick. I was sent by ambulance to hospital. There I stayed for six months." 

And the wheels started to come off completely: "I was getting sicker and sicker. I lost so much weight in the hospital I was only 39-kilograms. After six months with a lot of complications, they did not know what to do with me. So I was sent to the university hospital. There they found out I had Colitus Ulcerosa disease."

With the diagnosis, Mark says: "Soon I was getting better with good medication. After eight months I finally got out of hospital. Those were the hardest months of my life." 

However, he is convinced thast he was well prepared by his sporting life: "Thanks to all my sports I had done, I survived. I was back cycling and skating. I even won some races again." 

However, in 2004 Mark got sick again: "I could not do much anyore. I had to go more and more to the toilet. I then went to my doctor and I asked him what I could do about it. He said you could have surgery and have an ileostomy." 

And in 2005 he achieved his ileostomy: "After my surgery I stopped with all the medication. Soon after my surgery I started cycling and skating races again. I again started to win some cycling and skating races. In 2008 I completed a 200 kilometre ice skating race in Austria. I was 17th!"

Having now ditched the competitive cycling, Mark still pedals for fun while still being involved in ice-skating races. Although the nearly-Netherlands man for high level sport, Mark is a man now very much content, not just with his life of cycling but also with his cycle of life.