If you believe Maarten de Jonge of the Netherlands, and several large news outlets do, then you know that he can totally claim the title of Luckiest Man In The World right now. The pro cyclist from the Netherlands claims that he was supposed to be on both doomed Malaysian Airlines flights — the one that disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March, and the recent one that was shot down over the Ukraine — but in each case changed his plans at the last minute. Zounds.
"El ciclista Maarten de Jonge se salva dos veces de morir en los vuelos de Malaysia Airlines http://t.co/aYixzhcF4j” Increíble!!!
— Rafa Payá (@RafaPayaAS) July 18, 2014
He rides for the Terrengganu cycling team in Malaysia. And to prove that he has not just luck but balls of steel, he’s taking another Malaysian Airlines flight today — MH17 — to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.
In both cases de Jonge, 29, says he made the swaps to get cheaper flights. It sounds too coincidental to be true, but one part of his story checks out — according to his stats and the races he’s participated in, he did conceivably have reason to be on both of those flights.
In his written statement Friday, de Jonge downplayed his two very close calls, saying that his story is meaningless compared to those of the victims and their families.
He declined to comment further out of respect for the 298 passengers and crew of Flight MH17, at least 189 of them Dutch citizens, who perished in the tragedy.
How good is de Jong? You probably won’t see him in the Tour de France, but he did win the fourth stage of the Tour of Thailand in April.