Thalita de Jong will return to Liv Racing Xstra in June, after signing a mid-season contract, in a move she hopes will also offer her the opportunity to re-connect with the level she was at when last racing with the team where she started her career.
The Dutch rider began 2022 with Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport, but ended her contract in February after two seasons with the Belgian Continental team. De Jong initially turned professional with the then Rabobank Women Team in 2012 and rode for the squad for five seasons, winning stages at the Giro Donne and Lotto Belgium Tour before joining the Lares-Waowdeals team in 2017.
“After my leaving, at the end of 2016, I have always had this thought: if the opportunity ever arises, I am absolutely open to a comeback,” De Jong said. “I have always stayed in contact with team manager Eric van den Boom, we have followed each other’s footsteps. In February, we sat down together to discuss the possibilities.
“Fortunately, there are now opportunities. It’s nice to come home to this pleasant, professional environment, which offers opportunities for me to reach a very high level again.”
As per the UCI’s mid-season transfer regulations, De Jong will only be eligible to race for Liv Xstra from June 1. Until then she will race for JEGG-DJR Academy and the Dutch national team, racing primarily in the Netherlands.
“I’ve already looked at my programme with the JEGG-DJR Academy staff. The races I ride there are very different from those at the WorldTour level, but nice to experience,” De Jong said.
She is expected to make her return to the WorldTour with the Women’s Tour in early June and slot into Liv Xstra’s stage racing squad, where her contract carries through to the end of 2023.
“With [sports director] Giorgia Bronzini and [performance manager] Wim Stroetinga I have already put together a nice calendar,” she said. “I can already say that I can start immediately in the Women’s Tour in England. After that there will be more beautiful races, including, if everything goes well, the Giro Donne and the Tour de France Femmes. Every rider dreams of that; so do I. We have a well-balanced programme.”
Despite not racing for a top-level team since 2016, De Jong has enjoyed success in cyclocross and on the road, most recently winning the Grote Prijs Beerens in October. Liv Xstra hope this will continue into 2022.
“After all these years we still haven’t seen the best of Thalita,” said sports director Giorgia Bronzini. “Last year you could see very clearly that, after times of physical discomfort, she had found the way up again. Hopefully she can develop further in our top sport environment and become a decisive rider in our team. Thalita is multifunctional and can compete in many types of races. Combined with her professionalism and drive, this makes her a very welcome addition.”
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