Quick Step rider aiming to race London 2012 Olympics
Yellow and blue, with stripes and stars, the Curaçao National Champion's jersey was worn for the first time by Marc De Maar on stage one of the Tour of Poland.
The Quick Step rider had already won the championships last year in both the road race and the time trial but he wasn’t allowed to wear a special jersey on that occasion. Following changes in the political situation in Curaçao since, however, De Maar is now able to don the colours of national champion in competition.
The island of Curaçao became independent on 10 October 2010 as the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved. That entity previously merged Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire (ABC Islands).
At that date, De Maar lost his dual Dutch and Antillean nationality. “I had to decide and I opted for Curaçao because I've got a strong relationship with this country,” he told Cyclingnews. “My father is from there, I'm a resident there since last year when I raced for the US team UnitedHealthcare and I still live in Curaçao in winter.”
De Maar also noted that “Curaçao cycling needs some publicity” and that he wants to support cycling on the island.
With a population of 173,000 and based in the Lesser Antilles, the island of Curaçao is more famous for the Amstel Curaçao Race, its annual criterium with some of the best world riders in winter, than for its local cycling talents.
The island's new ambassador, De Maar, aged 27, was born in Assen, the Netherlands. He rode for the Rabobank feeder team from 2004 to 2005 and then spent four years in the ProTour squad. Plagued by injuries, however, his competitive outings were limited.
After a transition year in the United States, De Maar decided to go back to Europe this season and signed for Quick Step. His best result to date was 12th in overall at the Volta a Catalunya.
At the Tour of Poland he might well capture some useful points to secure a start at the world championships. But De Maar is unsure of whether he will race in Copenhagen at the end of September, given that the Pan American Championships take place in Mexico a week later.
“The Pan American Championships are a good opportunity to gain selection for the Olympic Games,” he explained.
Very motivated by the 2012 event, De Maar is considering taking part in the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, the test event for the London Olympics, which takes place on August 14. He will then ride the Vuelta a España, where he will use a special frame adorned with the colours of the Curaçao flag.
Whenever he races with the Curaçao national team, whether it is at the Worlds, the Pan American Games or the Olympics, De Maar knows that he won't have teammates, but he is not concerned.
“I'm not the kind or rider who needs five teammates, I can do my own race,” he said. “And why shouldn't I have some support one day? Some cyclists from Curaçao are currently students in the Netherlands. They might improve later.”