"Nobody wanted him, not even Jumbo-Visma": De Knegt expresses pride in Del Grosso following World Championships Cycling

"Nobody wanted him, not even Jumbo-Visma": De Knegt expresses pride in Del Grosso following World Championships

"Nobody wanted him, not even Jumbo-Visma": De Knegt expresses pride in Del Grosso following World Championships

The Cyclo-cross World Championships were an unprecedented success for the Dutch team led by national coach Gerben de Knegt. Fem van Empel and Mathieu van der Poel took the world titles as expected, but there was one other result that the Dutchman was undeniably the proudest of: the world title of U23 rider Tibor Del Grosso.

After the men's World Championship won by Mathieu van der Poel, we caught up with De Knegt in the mixed zone to reflect on the weekend of racing in Tábor. "I look back on a very beautiful World Championships edition, but I also have to put a lot of energy into it," he revealed. "There's all sorts of hassle involved: from parking cards to hotel reservations to flights and the shuttle schedule, I'm a jack-of-all-trades," he explained. "Eventually, I have to think about a thousand and one things, and that's fine, but in the weeks after such a World Championship, I sometimes wake up at five o'clock in the morning and start to fret."

And yet the national coach knows better than anyone why he does it all. When IDLProCycling.com asked him the simple question what he is most proud of after this World Championship? "The title of Tibor Del Grosso, yes, without a doubt," De Knegt's eyes sparkled. In recent years, De Knegt had to put some serious effort into finding a team that would take on the U23 rider, who now, at the men's U23 race in Tábor, didn't allow a single second of resistance on the challenging course. Those efforts are now paying off.

tibor del grosso

Del Grosso feels at home with Alpecin-Deceuninck, and De Knegt is pleased with that as well

Del Grosso is now racing for Alpecin-Deceuninck, but De Knegt reveals that even this move had its challenges. "Nobody wanted him (at the end of 2021, ed.), not even Jumbo-Visma. Apparently, he was known as a difficult guy, but he's not like that at all," states the master selector, as clear as he always is in his interviews. Eventually, Metec picked him up, successfully. "After the 2023 World Championships (where Del Grosso finished second in the U23 category, behind Thibau Nys, ed.), Alpecin-Deceuninck finally wanted to sign him, but even then, I had to do a lot of talking," De Knegt adds.

At the Roodhoofts' team, Del Grosso has been able to make a significant leap forward, as he mentioned after his World Championship. "I've taken a very good step up in terms of support, and that is also reflected in the level I've reached this year. Everything is just a bit more professional, bigger and with a bit more budget behind it, so I think I've made strides in every aspect," he said about his transfer from Metec to Alpecin-Deceuninck. "I hope to continue developing, both in cyclo-cross and on the road. I'll see where it takes me. I'm in a good place to develop. Where does my heart lie? With both."

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