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Set back for Albert

Young Belgian 'cross champion Niels Albert didn't enjoy the best build-up to the cyclo-cross season, suffering two setbacks this summer which will leave him chasing after his early season 'cross form. On July 5 he crashed against a post during a road race in Melle - his collarbone was shattered by the blow and he had a 1.5cm deep head wound. The post was even worse off - there was only 10cm left it's original one metre height!

While Niels Albert (Palmans) was crashing against posts, his rival Lars Boom (Rabobank Continental Team) won the Dutch national TT championships. Despite the success on the road, the espoir world champion decided in August that he would focus more than ever on cyclo-cross. "I decided to fully focus on cyclo-cross during the next couple of seasons, mainly because cycling on the road has a much bigger impact on your body.

"In the summer I will keep racing on the road to become stronger and build up my stamina," Boom said in an interview with the Heusdense Courant. The Dutchman will focus on the cyclo-cross world championship in Treviso. "There I want to be a serious threat for Bart Wellens and Sven Nys, with a top-10 result I will not be satisfied," the self-assured 21 year-old from the Rabobank Continental team said.

The Dutch team has recruited two new cyclo-cross riders to make up for the loss of Sven Vanthourenhout and Richard Groenendaal. The new riders, Joeri Adams and Ramon Sinkeldam, come from an impressive junior pedigree. Adams is the junior world champion, while Dutch junior champion Sinkeldam finished 4th at the worlds.

Former world champion Groenendaal (36) left the Rabobank squad, and will ride as an independent rider in the AA Drink Cycling Team. After welcoming his second daughter, Mies, Groenendaal decided to finally work on his persistant stomach troubles. "I always used medication to control it, but since the surgery became less radical with a new technique I decided to get rid of it. Hopefully I can profit from it in the latter stages of my career," Groenendaal said on his website. The 36 year-old underwent surgery on his abdomen during the summer months.

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