AA Drink extends with Aernouts and Van Amerongen
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Friday, November 23, 2012

AA Drink extends with Aernouts and Van Amerongen

by Kyle Moore at 11:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Cyclocross
New duo riding well heading into big weekend of cyclocross

AA DrinkIn the days leading up to one of the biggest cyclocross weekends of the season, AA Drink announced the contract extensions of its two stars, Bart Aernouts and Thijs Van Amerongen. Both riders had gotten off to relatively good starts in the new season, and AA Drink subsequently chose to reward them.

Aernouts joined Van Amerongen at AA Drink this year, coming over from the Rabobank/Giant Offroad outfit. The noticeable light blue, green, and yellow team provided security to Aernouts and Van Amerongen, which brought about relief from the duo, given the sponsor’s women’s squad folding late in the summer.

AA Drink-Leontien.nl announced its closure in mid-August, leaving riders such as Olympic silver medalist Lizzie Armistead and Emma Pooley high and dry.

Aernouts is now signed through March 2015, and Van Amerongen until 2014. AA Drink team director Cees Pille commented in a press release about the extensions given to his two ‘cross riders.

“At the start of the ‘cross season, we indicated that we would watch the development of Bart and Thijs closely, with the intention to continue sponsoring longer than this winter,” Pille said. “Looking back at the races they have ridden, I can only conclude that both have done fine. Both Bart and Thijs sit close to the top and create a lot of exposure, something positive for the Belgian market, in which we are very active.

“Cyclocross is a sport that fits perfectly with our brand. If you want to participate at this level, you need to be decisive. Of course, it hasn’t escaped us that there was interest from our riders. To extend contracts now is to prevent unrest.”

As Pille noted, both riders have been effective throughout the autumn. In the first two rounds of World Cup competition, Aernouts was sixth in Tabor and seventh in Plsen. Van Amerongen pulled in a ninth place in Plsen, and an eighth place last Sunday in the Superprestige Gavere.

“I think it’s great that we’ll go into next season with AA Drink, and that this is based on what we have achieved,” Van Amerongen commended. “The future looks good. Moreover, it’s good that we now have certainty. The month of December is a busy period in terms of the ‘cross program, so it’s good that you don’t have any other business hanging over your head.”

Aernouts indicated that he was happy with his move to the squad. “I feel very at home in this small team, and I realized at the start of the season that this was the right step in my career. Therefore I hoped that AA Drink would stay active as a sponsor. Now there is no more doubt,” said the Belgian.

The weekend brings a big cyclocross double, with the World Cup race in Koksijde on Saturday, followed by the Superprestige Gieten on Sunday. Aernouts took third in the Koksijde World Cup race in 2011, while Van Amerongen was 11th.

“Something like a repeat performance would be wonderful,” Aernouts said of his chances on Saturday. “I’m really excited for this weekend – the Koksijde / Gieten double is always something to look forward to. Although it was challenging in Gavere [last weekend], I still held great feelings with seventh.

Van Amerongen has gotten better every year on the sand dunes of Koksijde.

“Koksijde is known as a tough course, and that’s good for me,” the Dutchman claimed. “I must have these types of tests, where it’s more like hand-to-hand combat. I know that my condition is okay, after a brief downturn, and the [Koksijde] results of previous years show me getting closer to the top every season; 24th in 2009, 18th in 2010, and last year I was 11th. If the rise continues like this, I’ll reach my goal this time.”


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