MerlanDuo-Be One team manager Ralf van Heugten hasn't had the best start to the weekend's MTB World Cup in Willingen, Germany, as six riders of his team are injured. The Willingen World Cup was supposed to be one of the highlights of the season for the ambitious Dutch/Belgian team. "This is just one big disappointment," said van Heugten. "Unfortunately, injuries are closely linked to sports, but six at the same time? That is something I could never have imagined happening!"
The injured riders include downhill riders Bas de Bever (knee injury) and Canadian Claire Buchar with concussion and a torn muscle. On the cross country side, Jimmy Thielens and Rudi van Houts are recovering from a hand and collarbone fracture, respectively. Jelmer Pietersma and Sander Bouwens are both suffering from knee injuries. Pietersma was injured during last week's world cup in Houffalize, Belgium. He hopes to have recovered in time however for the Tour de France for mountain bikers, which commences next week in Paris.
Consequently, two Belgian riders will appear at the start in Willingen for the MerlanDuo-Be One team: first year espoir Bjorn Brems and Belgian champion downhill Nico Vink. The latter is a candidate for a great result, as he has been in good form of late.
Ralf van Heugten hopes that his riders recover soon. "I have accepted the circumstances but I will remain positive once everybody has recovered. The season is definitely not over for MerlanDuo-Be One!"