A great Thalita de Jong with Lotto Dstny 2024

by Santy Rey

A growing formation

Thalita de Jong (Bergen op Zoom 1993) is being one of the sensations of a 2024 in which she leads several rankings: best continental cyclist in the UCI World ranking and with the most top-10 in events of the highest category or the one that contributes the most in a team’s points (75%).

All this after taking a step back. She ended her year and a half journey in the ranks of Liv Racing Teqfind after an acceptable performance in The Tour de France or the bad luck that deprived her a few days before of a great result in Belgium. A fall on the third day of the Baloise Ladies Tour caused her to lose 4 minutes and all her options for the CG.

After leaving the World Tour, she ended up at Lotto Dstny to be directed by an entire institution of this sport: Grace Verbeke, the first Belgian to win Ronde van Vlaanderen (2010).

A reinvention that is nothing new for Thalita. In 2022 we saw her wearing 3 different shirts. She began her 3rd season with the Bingoal Casino Chevalmeire in which she shared a squad with her little sister Demi. “Bingoal was a small team, which started for me in 2018. I was very close to a member of the team staff and they were always behind me helping me. We couldn’t compete in all the events we wanted to. Compared to other big teams World Tour, the level of the team was not that high but we always gave our best, with a positive attitude and looking forward

But discrepancies with the Belgian continental structure meant that the Dutch soon took another direction. The incorporation window for teams of new faces was closed and as an intermediate step to maintain her competitive level, Thalita ended up at the modest JEGG DJR Academy.

In June, she returned to the WTW LIV Racing Xstra discipline. “I jumped on a moving train in June and was immediately able to go to the Women’s Tour in England. And it was quite a challenge. I still have to find my place in the squad. I wasn’t used to working as a team in a race, because in previous seasons I often made my own plan. I had to learn that again.”

Those few months allowed her to take part in The Giro d’Italia, The Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift and Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta. In addition to being called up with her national team during the European road race in Munich, which marked the victory of her teammate Lorena Wiebes.

On the way back:

Thalita de Jong returned to the structure in which she raced more than decade ago at the highest level, and where several of the best cyclists of all time coincided. “In 2012 I made the jump directly to the UCI WE Rabobank LIV Team. It was a year in which I learned a lot. I was racing with Marianne Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten, Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Liesbeth de Vocht, etcetera, in my first year. I learned so much from then, so for me it was that year a learning school”

“During 5 years I learned a lot from them, from the team and myself. I did so many big races, even the Worlds TTT a few times. You learn how to train, how to race, tactics, food stuff, the life as a pro cyclist. Like: eat – train – sleep – repeat”

The beginnings:

“I started cycling because of my dad. He was cycling in a tourist group, like every weekend with the club a ride. I joined them a few times on a really old racebike and I liked it. My dad is teacher on a high school, and they give MTB trainings and weekends. I joined them a few times and that was something what I really loved to do. When we went on holiday to France with the caravan, my sister, my dad and I where cycling on the MTB on the road. In 2009 there was a small race in the forest in my home town and I participated overthere. I won and then I started with racing in 2010 in Junior Category, on the road.

Her great 2016 and the suffering:

In 2016 she archieves the Cyclocross World Championship, a title that brings back great memories. “The best in the world, it means you’ve beaten them all. It’s like touching the sky. But I also won a stage of the Giro Rosa on the road, doing 2nd in the prologue, working for the team…

After those successes the bitter moments would come for a long period. “It is very hard when you are injured and can not do what you want to do. But staying positive is something that you really have to try. Even the smallest things, think positive. Take the time, do something else you like to do, that helped me a lot. Also you have to create a small ‘world’ with people that you are trust and who can help you. Not to much opinions, just a few people. And then think about your recovery. It will take much more a longer time then you expect, and you will also fall down, but in the end it is all worth it, and then you can do again what you love to do”

For CX’s lovers, she herself clears up doubts about a possible return. “I have been asked a hundred times in recent weeks when I will do cyclocross again, but I have to disappoint the fans for now. The focus is entirely on a good road season. I want to get through the winter rested and fit and prepare myself with full dedication to road cycling. Cyclocross does not seem to fit into my programme

Thalita de Jong is one more of the plenty school of cyclists that The Netherlands has. “I think that the reason why we have so many quality cyclists in my country may be that since we were little girls we are very sporty and we always set ourselves goals. We try to give our best and always look for the best result. When you see my team, you can already see who wants to give 100% of himself or only 90% But I certainly don’t know yet, nobody knows…”

Photo: @ThalitadeJong

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