With just a few days to go until the start of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Dutch racer Rudi van Houts (Multivan Merida) is bowing out due to health issues.
Not long after his teammate Thomas Litscher had to pull the plug on Worlds to undergo surgery, van Houts is also going to skip Worlds. He has been suffering from fatigue for the past few weeks and is still searching for the reason.
"Just before Mont-Sainte-Anne's World Cup race, the problem occurred for the first time, keeping me from racing in Canada. But the persistent fatigue would not disappear after my return to the Netherlands," said van Houts.
"As we have not been able to find a medical explanation for my problem so far, I only see one option and that is to take a break and then calmly find out what the reason for this persistent fatigue may be."
Multivan Merida team manager Fabian Aust said, "From the perspective of the team, Rudi van Houts' decision to bow out of the world championships is bitter, of course. Rather than having four riders at the start in South Africa, we are going to compete with two riders in the men's race now."
"It's all the more a pity as Rudi had his best season in the World Cup so far in 2013, scoring a top 10 finish in Val di Sole for the first time. Despite the Dutch federation's strict criteria to qualify for the world championships, van Houts would have been selected to race. But as the athletes' health is a top priority, the team supports Rudi in his decision."
The Multivan-Merida men's team will be represented by José Hermida (Spain) and Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic). Cink finished in second in the Vallnord World Cup while Hermida got the same result in Mont-Sainte-Anne. Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå will race among the women at Worlds.