Riders threaten to intervene if Dutch track coach is let go

Athletes worried about losing coach after strong Olympics

The Dutch track team is enduring a period of uncertainty with René Wolff's future as the national coach still up in the air. Olympic Champion Elis Ligtlee, along with several other riders, voiced her concerns about the possibility that Wolff's contract may not be extended.

"I'm really afraid that he will leave. I'm very concerned about that," Ligtlee told Dutch broadcaster NOS. "Our team has worked for four years with Rene, we really owe so much to him. If it is to end, I'm going to try and intervene."

Earlier in the week, Jeffrey Hoogland said that not retaining Wolff would be to throw away the work of the past years.

Wolff's contract is due to run out at the end of 2016, midway through the current track calendar. An Olympic champion himself in the team sprint, he has been with the Dutch squad since 2010. Under his management, the Dutch team had one of their most successful track campaigns since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. In Rio, the Netherlands came home with gold in the women's Keirin for Ligtlee and silver for Matthijs Buchli in the men's Keirin. Combined with their performances on the road and in the BMX, the country finished second on the cycling medal table behind Great Britain.

At the recent European Championships in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, they finished fourth in the medal standings with eight medals, including two gold from Kirsten Wild in the elimination race and the points race.

After taking bronze in the women's sprint at the World Cup in Apeldoorn, Laurine van Riessen said that she only had trust in a sprint programme run by Woolf. Van Riessen, who became infamous at the Olympic Games for her miraculous escape from a crash in the Keirin heats, switched from speed skating to track cycling last year. She warned that she could leave the programme if Wolff was not kept on by the Dutch Federation.

"I only trust in this process with Rene there. So I want to make sure that he stays on, otherwise I do not train with the union," she told NOS. “He just put down such a strong program and there's still more to come. I hope that they realise in time. The tenure of René for me is a condition, and I'm pretty sure the rest of the team also thinks so."

Wolff has recently been critical of the management at the Dutch Cycling Federation, saying of new technical director Johan Lammerts in de Telegraaf, “The necessary knowledge for a discipline such as track cycling is lacking in him. That includes decisiveness. I know that if I leave, this group of athletes would lose ninety percent of the adequate supervision.”

He was more circumspect in his comments on Sunday, saying that there were no internal problems and that a decision on his future would be made this week.

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