The 32-year-old – who stops at the end of the season – reflects on his time with Quick-Step Floors and looks forward to new challenges in life.
I have desired to bring down the curtain of my professional cycling career
I've been riding as a pro since 2007, this being my 11th season, and I have been doing what I loved the most for so many years. As a professional cyclist, there are so many things that can go wrong and you never know how many good years you will get. I feel very fortunate for having enjoyed such a long career, something a lot of guys can only dream of. However, after this season I have decided that the time is right to close this chapter and open a new one in my professional life.
I don't want to postpone my retirement to the day where I don't want to ride a bike anymore. I want to stop while I am on a good note, when I am still enjoying riding my bike but also want to try other things in life. I weighed the pros and the cons, but there was really never any doubt. Better a little too early than too late, leaving you bow out in a state where I don't want to touch the bike anymore. I think now is the perfect time to stop.
My twin brother Peter also retired last year, which also played a factor in my decision. He was trying to get back on the level he had before his injury but wasn't too lucky, and the reality was he had to stop after the 2016 season. We have always trained together and even raced together when we were both on Quick-Step Floors. We always tried to find the time to train together when we were both home but after he stopped that has been almost never. It started to become lonely without his company. I mean, it isn't that it is impossible to train without him, but there were missing something after so many years where we trained together.
I will miss my second family at Quick-Step Floors after so many years
I joined Quick-Step Floors in 2012 and I soon found my place; I also think the team found a good asset in me. I was happy with the role I had in the team and the team was happy with what I could do for them. Everybody was aligned, you can say, we knew the whole time what to expect from each other and both parts delivered, which is why I could stay with them for six consecutive years.
I will really be missing all the people I came across over the years and had the chance to work with on the team, whether it is the riders, staff members, management or sports directors. It is a long time to be on the same team, and of course the riders changed every year, but most of the guys behind the riders they worked here for many, many years and were already here before I came.
That is why you often hear guys from the team say it is like a big family. People know each other so well. That is the one thing I will really miss when I stop, the team and everybody around it. The races, the many travelling days, being on the start line with a lot of pressure that comes with it, the training and making sure you are on top of your game throughout the year, that is not something I will miss, to be honest.
Will always be part of the Wolfpack
I don't want it to sound like a cliché, but I can only say that I couldn't imagine a better team to finish my career with and I am really thankful for all of the people I have meet here and got the chance to work with over the years. I will for sure keep on watching the Wolfpack and be a Quick-Step guy by heart!
But until then, there's one more page to add to my last chapter as pro, and that's the Tour of Guangxi, which I'll do next week with these great guys! I've raced in China during my debut pro season, making my first outing in a race outside Europe, and it will be nice to close out my career there with Quick-Step Floors!
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele