The Netherlands' cycling federation (KNWU) will only be able to select six riders to represent the country in next month's world championship road race after Dutch riders failed to return the nation to the top ten in world rankings. The head coach of the KNWU, Leo Van Vliet, has directed blame for the reduced Worlds representation at Dutch professional teams and, in particular, Rabobank, according a report published in De Telegraaf on Sunday.
"As association coach I have however no influence on the performances of the Dutch riders in the large races," Van Vliet told the Dutch newspaper. "There are other people who have influence on that development, however."
Dutch riders have failed to earn enough International Cycling Union (UCI) points to rank inside the top ten nations, which would have allowed them to start with nine riders on September 27 in Mendrisio, Switzerland. Underwhelming performances by Dutch riders - and the strength of Norweigian, British and American riders - at the Tour de France saw the nation slip from seventh to thirteenth on the UCI's world rankings during July.
The fate of the reduced Dutch men's worlds team was sealed at the Tour of Poland this week as Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-HTC) claimed two stage wins and finished in third place overall on general classification. Boasson Hagen's performance has secured Norway's position inside the top ten in the UCI's world ranking and left it now impossible for the Dutch to get back inside the select group of nations before the World Championships.
It has been 24 years since a Dutchman won the World championship. Joop Zoetemelk claimed the title at the1985 championships in Montello, Italy. Since then the nation's best result was in 1997 when Léon van Bon finished third behind France's Laurent Brochard and Denmark's Bo Hamburger in San Sebastián.
Van Vliet lamented the handicap of taking a smaller squad into a tough Worlds course, but said the team would remain motivated for a strong performance.
"The parcours is so heavy that only some racers can remain in the final," he said. "With the six racers we will go with the same motivation to Mendrisio, although it is disappointing that we will be three riders short. For development of Dutch cycling this is a missed opportunity."
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