The cyclocross season continues to rumble on, and we’re finally seeing the entirety of the cyclocross world get out and into form (unfortunately, it looks like we’ve lost Lars Boom to the road for good at this point). Even Marianne Vos was out early this year, taking home the Nacht van Woerden, and trotting out her World Champion stripes for the first time this season. In other, less visible news, there’s been a bunch of contract talk out there, so we’ll sort out some of the best moves.
Richard Groenendaal Back to Rabobank?
You may remember that Dutch great Richard Groenendaal and the Rabobank continental team did not have the most pleasant dealings towards the end of his career, with Groenendaal moving to AA Drinks after Rabobank made it clear that there would be no room for him, and with Rabobank’s devotion to Sven Nys and the heir to Groenendaal’s throne, Lars Boom. It would seem, however, that Rabobank is willing to let by-gones be by-gones and have offered Groenendaal the opportunity to come back to the team as a sporting director. Groenendaal has a contract with AA Drinks, who he joined immediately following his retirement as a racer, as a director that runs through April of next year, but Groenendaal does not seem averse to joining up his old team. The spot on the team will come open next year thanks to the departure of current sporting director, Nico Verhoeven, who will move up to the Rabobank’s Pro-Tour squad.
AA Drinks Extends Contract With Thijs Al
Thijs Al hasn’t quite been as visible this season as he was at time last season, but he has done enough to warrant a contract extension with the AA Drinks Cycling team. With the departure of Lars Boom to the road scene, Al is arguably the Dutch’s biggest threat in international competition. Al is also the clear cut leader of his AA Drinks team, which features such talented riders as Eddy IJzendoorn as wel as a wealth of young talent. Al will be with the team until 2011, according to his new contract, and will surely be able to improve on his track record, which includes a victory at the World Cup in Zolder from last year.
Tom Vannoppen to Make Professional Return
Belgian cyclocross star Tom Vannoppen is set to make a comeback to the cyclocross world, having finished up some time away from the sport after testing positive for cocaine and being fired by his then-team, Sunweb-Projob. Vannoppen was at one point thought to be the next dominant force in cyclocross, but decided to retire following the drug scandal, in the summer of 2008. Vannoppen is best known for taking home the silver medal at the World Championships in 2002, missing out on victory in Zolder, Belgium by only three seconds. Vannoppen will now ride for Mooserwirt-Ridley Bikes, based in Austria, thanks to his close ties to the team’s manager, Paul Kumpen. Vannoppen will not dive back into the sport with a full schedule, instead racing in local races, with a full return to European cyclocross set for 2010.
Watch out in future editions of PCR&R for mini pro interviews with some of cyclocross’ biggest stars, and for a possible rolling out of a Cyclocross Power Rankings!
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