The best shape of Thalita de Jong is back

by Santy Rey

2nd season at Liv Racing Teqfind by Giorgia Bronzini

2022 left us with Thalita de Jong (Liv Racing Teqfind) wearing 3 different jerseys. She started her 3rd season with Bingoal Casino Chevalmeire. “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. Compared to other big World Tour Teams, the level of the team was not that high but we always gave our best, with a positive attitude and looking forward”

But differences within the Belgian continental structure made the Dutch soon take a new course. The incorporation window for the teams of new faces was closed and as an intermediate step in order to maintain her competitive level, Thalita ended up at the modest JEGG DJR Academy.

During June 2022, Thalita de Jong returned to the WTW LIV Racing Xstra discipline. “I jumped on a moving train in June and immediately got to go to the Women’s Tour in England. And yes, that was quite a challenge. I still had to find my place in the team, as a newcomer I stepped into a group that had been together for some time. I’m not the type that quickly comes to the forefront anyway. In addition, I was not used anymore to operating as a team in a race, because in previous seasons I could often make my own plan. I had to learn that again

These few months have allowed her to take part in Giro d’Italia, Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift and Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta. She has also been an important piece in the European IRR that led to the victory of her teammate Lorena Wiebes.

On the way back:

Thalita de Jong returned to the structure in which she raced a 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 in 2023. 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 for this year. Also, I’ll go to Mallorca with the team in winter for a training camp.”

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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