Verbeke ok to ride in 2012, but where?

Grace Verbeke on the podium.

Grace Verbeke on the podium. (Image credit:

Grace Verbeke's injuries are not serious enough to keep her from riding in the coming season, but she has started a controversy as to where she will ride in 2012. The Belgian was hit by a light truck this week while training.

“Fortunately my injuries aren't too bad,” she told Het Nieuwsblad. “I have a broken eye socket, cuts and a bruised pelvis.”

Explaining how it happened, she said. “I didn't hear him and saw him too late.  When I suddenly saw him, I reflexively reacted. Otherwise I would definitely have ended up under his wheels.”

The injuries do not endanger her career. “Fortunately, because next year I am leaving Topsport Vlaanderen for the new Belgian-Italian Kleo Ladies team led by Heidi Van de Vijver.”

That was unexpected and unpleasant news for Topsport Vlaanderen. “I'd rather not discuss it,” team manager Christel Herremans said. “That is food for the lawyers. Verbeke had a contract  for 2011 with an option for 2012 under certain conditions. She can't just leave the team, even if she wants to.  Contract is contract.”

Verbeke's friend, Stijn Lootens admitted that the announcement was premature. “Actually it was not intended that the news about her transfer become known. “Grace wants to go to Kleo Ladies Team and is convinced she will be there in 2012. How all this would be regulated is currently being reviewed.”

There is no doubt that Kleo Ladies want Verbeke. The formerly only moderately successful Italian team in June hired Belgian Van de Vijver to run things. “Initially the team wanted to expand the Italian section, but I soon saw there were more options in Belgium. The team now has a Belgian licence and UCI status, and wants to win a place at the top, next to Topsport Vlaanderen and Lotto Honda.”

As winner of the 2010 Tour of Flanders, Verbeke “is our top name, but in addition we also have the Belgian champion Evelyn Arys, Annelies Van Doorslaer and Anne Arnouts on the team. The other six riders are from abroad. I think the arrival of the team in Belgium is a good thing for women's cycling in our country.”

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