Following Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen’s and Lucinda Brand‘s transfer announcements earlier this month, today another Rabo-Liv rider announced she’ll be leaving the Dutch squad. Cyclocross world champion Thalita de Jong revealed that, after five years with Rabo-Liv, she’ll be taking a lead role for the small Belgium UCI team Lares-Waowdeals.
Rabo-Liv has been a fixture in women’s cycling for years but at the start of the season, Rabobank announced that after 20 years of sponsorship, it’s going to end support of pro cycling.
While former multi-world champion Marianne Vos has stated that she’ll continue with the team’s smaller sponsors, the rest of the team is disbanding quickly.
Van der Breggen will be joining the dominant force that is Boels-Dolmans, former Dutch road champion Lucinda Brand will be moving to Liv-Plantur, Roxane Knetemann is transferring to PC FutureScope, DS Koos Moerenhout will become the European manager of Axeon Hagens Berman, and more announcements are yet to come.
Leadership and more cyclocross for De Jong
The 2016 season has been a successful one for De Jong, highlighted by the national and world champion titles in cyclocross and a stage win at the Giro Rosa on the road. But the 22-year-old has spent much of her five years with Rabo-Liv riding in support of Vos and Van der Breggen and she’s now ready to take on a lead role herself.
“Acting as a leader will be quite new to me. For the past few years, I’ve often had to survive during the first part of the race, so I could help our leaders in the end. Lares-Waowdeals wants to help me to go in to the final of the race and compete for the win myself. It’s a challenge to learn new things in this team, like how to be a leader and how to act like one. I’m also looking forward to help each other in the race and to help each other improve to a higher level,” said De Jong said in a team-issued statement.
Elaborating to the Dutch media, De Jong revealed that she had been thinking about transferring for a while now. She had hoped for a bigger role within the Rabo-Liv team following her success early in the year. However, that chance didn’t come.
“When push came to shove, team management continued to place their confidence in the older, more experienced riders,” she told BN De Stem. “[Lares-Waowdeals] wants to build a team around me. Personally, I feel I’m ready to win really big matches.”
While a UCI team, Lares-Waowdeals has not been much of a presence at top level races but not that they have signed the world champion, that may change.
“We are honoured to have Thalita de Jong joining our team,” said Marck Bracke, sports manager of Lares-Waowdeals. “She will lift our team to a higher lever and we will do anything in our power to lead her to victory in multiple races.”
De Jong will ride two more road races with Rabo-Liv before starting her cyclocross season on October 1.
With the rainbow stripes to show off, De Jong plans on skipping the UCI World Road Championships in exchange of a bigger cyclocross season than in previous years with the ultimate goals of defending her national and the world titles in January and bringing home a medal from the European Championships as well.