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Maarten Wynants says goodbye after seventeen years as a professional cyclist

Maarten Wynants says goodbye after seventeen years as a professional cyclist

No one in the peloton will have hoped for Paris-Roubaix to go ahead more than Maarten Wynants. Now that the cobbled classic has been moved to October, next Sunday's Tour of Flanders will be the 38-year-old Belgian's last race as a professional cyclist.

“Thanks to my track record in the Team Jumbo-Visma team, I was able to direct my farewell myself. For me it was already clear that this would be after Paris-Roubaix”, Wynants said in the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “It’s a pity that this race has been moved to the autumn. However, it's no punishment to say goodbye at the Tour of Flanders either. A big farewell party is not possible because of the corona situation, but I have no intention of letting my career fade away. The dream scenario? Keeping Wout van Aert out of the wind during the first 180 kilometres and then seeing him stand on the highest podium when I cross the line in Oudenaarde. Thanks to Wout’s development, I was able to extend my career as road captain for a few more years. It would be great if he could win his first cobbled monument on the day of my farewell.”

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"The dream scenario? Seeing Wout van Aert on the highest podium when I cross the line in Oudenaarde."

Maarten Wynants

Satisfaction
Wynants’ list of achievements is not overflowing with individual victories. “I quickly realised that you have to know your place when you have the ambition to survive in professional cycling. There are many riders who have won a few races, but didn’t get to ride for as long with top teams as I did. I would have signed immediately if someone had told me in the past that I would have seventeen seasons in cycling. I have taken satisfaction from my role in the peloton.”

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Ups and downs
The Belgian rider has not known very deep lows, and he is grateful for that to this day. “I’m happy to say that I’ve been spared a lot of bad luck. But I did encounter one occurrence of bad luck. In the sixth stage of the Tour of 2012 I hit the asphalt after only five kilometres. When I got up, another rider collided with me and I could barely breathe. I immediately thought of a collapsed lung. I told that to my teammate Bram Tankink. He looked at me perplexed. He told me that with a collapsed lung I wouldn’t be able to get on my bike again. When I reached the finish after a hell of a ride, I decided to go to a hospital to have it checked. It turned out that I had three broken ribs and a collapsed lung. I had to make the doctor a firm promise never to get on the bike again in such a situation."

Wynants will not soon forget the two victories from his time with his current team. “In 2018 Dylan Groenewegen won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. I was the only remaining teammate and pulled the sprint for him. My part in that victory was therefore big. Never, however, was the relief greater than in the second stage of the Tour of Yorkshire in 2015. It was already May and we still hadn’t won a single race with the team, until Moreno Hofland broke the spell. Times change, these days winning big races in this team has become part of the plan.”

"I give my racing career an eight out of ten. For a nine, I might have had to win a race"

Maarten Wynants

Future
Sitting still is not an option for Wynants. Immediately after his farewell as a rider he will take up the position of sports director at Team Jumbo-Visma. “I am still far from tired of the race and I am glad that I can pass on my experience soon. My debut will be in the Giro d’Italia. That is already in a month and a half. I will then be able to experience the tricks of the trade for three weeks. I have been behind the wheel of the support vehicle once before. That was during the Hammer Series time trial in Norway in 2019. We won that time trial. A hundred per cent score, you can safely call that a good statistic.”

“I give my racing career an eight out of ten. For a nine, I might have had to win a race”, Wynants concluded.

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