De Jong uncertain for cyclo-cross world title defence

De Jong, Vos, Van der Poel and Boom named in Dutch line-up

Thalita de Jong’s participation in this weekend’s Cyclo-cross World Championships in Bieles, Luxembourg is in doubt, despite being selected for the Dutch team. The reigning world champion crashed heavily in the final round of the World Cup in Hoogerheide on Sunday, suffering a small tear in her thigh muscle, and has fluid on her knee.

De Jong was confirmed by coach Gerben de Knegt as part of the five-woman team that the Netherlands will take to Luxembourg this week.

“I have to keep it in mind that, on Saturday, I will not participate in the World Championships,” De Jong told Omroepbrabant.nl.

De Jong was at the head of a group of riders on the opening lap in Hoogerheide when she slipped out on a descent, landing on her left-hand side. It was immediately clear that the Dutchwoman had done some damage as she limped away, carrying her bike. She did attempt to continue but soon abandoned the race.

Following her abandon, De Jong went to hospital before heading home for further tests, wearing heavy strapping and support on her right leg. According to Omroepbrabant.nl, the pain has subsided slightly for De Jong, but she is still struggling to put any weight on her leg.

She is expected to travel with the Dutch team to Luxembourg, but a decision on her participation will not be made until the last minute. If De Jong does miss out, the Dutch are not without other strong options with seven-time cyclo-cross World Champion Marianne Vos in the line-up. Vos’ run of world titles ended in 2015 when she finished third to Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, struggling with a hamstring injury that would force her out of the road season entirely. She missed the last cyclo-cross season but has returned with a vengeance this time around. Vos has taken four victories in 2017 alone, including the national title and Sunday’s race in Hoogerheide.

Also in the women’s team are World Cup winner Sophie de Boer, Lucinda Brand and Maud Kaptheijns.

On the men’s side, Mathieu van der Poel will be looking to close out a tricky season with the world title. Van der Poel’s preparation for the Worlds hit a speed bump when he crashed heavily at the Azencross just before the start of the new year. He had an off-day in Hoogerheide, a race that is organised by his own father.

Joining Van der Poel in the line-up is Hoogerheide winner Lars van der Haar and Lars Boom, who recently took his first podium finish since 2010 at Surhuisterveen. Corné van Kessel, David van der Poel and Stan Godrie complete the line-up.

Elite Men: Mathieu van der Poel, Corné van Kessel, Lars van der Haar, David van der Poel, Stan Godrie, Lars Boom 

Elite women: Sophie de Boer, Thalita de Jong, Maud Kaptheijns, Marianne Vos, Lucinda Brand

Under 23 men: Joris Nieuwenhuis, Sieben Wouters, Maik van der Heijden, Gosse van der Meer, Jens Dekker, Kelvin Bakx

Under 23 women: Manon Bakker, Annemarie Worst, Ceylin del Carmen Alverado, Inge van der Heijden, Lindy van Anrooij

Junior Men: Thymen Arensman, Ryan Kamp, Mees Hendrikx, Bart Hazekamp, Bart Artz

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