The story of Monique Van Der Vorst, the Dutch Paralympic silver medallist whose dreams of going for gold at London 2012 were dashed when she began to recover the use of her legs, has taken another incredible twist with the news that the 27-year-old has been signed by Rabobank to ride alongside the likes of multiple world champion, Marianne Vos.
As reported here on road.cc last December, Van Der Vorst started to regain feeling in her legs after her handcycle was struck from behind by a cyclist while on a training ride last year.
A promising hockey player in her youth, she had started to lose the use of her left leg following surgery to correct a knee problem when she was aged 13. A year later, she began to lose feeling in her right leg too, leaving doctors mystified.
At the age of 15, she began handcycling, and three years ago in Beijing, where she had to compete in a neck brace after being struck by a car earlier in the year while training in Florida, won silver medals in the 40km road race and the time trial.
She had aimed to go one better in London next year, but last year’s life-changing collision in Mallorca has set her on a new course, with Van Der Vorst able to walk unaided by the end of 2010.
In a statement on the team's website, the cyclist, currently a student in human movement sciences at VU University Amsterdam, said she was honoured to have been signed by Rabobank.
‘This team provides the best environment with lots of experience and expertise,” she added. “Moreover, I know I can learn lots from Marianne Vos.”
For team manager Jeroen Blijlevens, a winner of stages in all three Grand Tours during his career on the road, the opposite is the case.
“I’m sure the rest of the girls have a lot to learn from Monique,” he reflected.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.