This weekend should be a warm-up for the Tour de France on Dutch soil. At least that was the intention. However, many of the best Dutch riders have decided to skip the national championships in Emmen.
In the build-up to the National Championships in Drenthe, there were numerous withdrawals.Tom Dumoulin, Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink all decided to skip the race, simply because the race does not fit into their preparation. They already have their eyes on next weekend.
Moreno Hofland will be present present in Emmen and he sees participation as a moral obligation for all riders.
"Perhaps the KNWU (the Dutch fedreration, ed.) must once again introduce a measure that requires riders to start at the championships. As a professional rider you simply have to be here," Hofland told NOS.
"If the National Championships are in Limburg, the sprinters are still at the start although we have no chance there. Personally I think they should also be here."
Hofland understands the decisions of some of his colleagues and teammates.
"I understand that for some it does not really fit into the picture and they want to avoid risks. There are some continental riders who are going to take some risks. The risk of crashes is present," said Hofland.
"But Nationals are Nationals which is a special race for everyone. Guys like Gesink can definitely win here, I think."
Organizer Wim Jansen doesn't understand the absentees.
"These riders let us down. I think the national championships jersey is a great symbol for cycling. If you want to do something good for your sport, then you have to ride a final and that is the Dutch championships," said Jansen.
"And if you can not go for the win, then I think you should stille be there. At least fo the people who support you throughout the year, like the fans and the sponsors."
Former national champion Koos Moerenhout also believes that the national elite should make an appearance.
"You are an example for the future. Small boys and girls who watch TV, want to emulate you," said Moerenhout. "By staying at home, you are not going to motivate anyone."
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