No additional icing on the cake for Team Jumbo-Visma after a strong Tour de France
Team Jumbo-Visma has concluded a strong Tour de France with three stage victorie...
Maarten Wynants has decided to retire. The 38-year-old, who has been part of Team Jumbo-Visma and its predecessors since 2011, will swap his bike for the team car after the spring of 2021. He has revealed this news in a conversation with Werner Bourlez from Het Nieuwsblad.
The Belgian isn’t planning to retire immediately. The oldest active Belgian professional cyclist has decided to extend his contract with six months because of the coronavirus. Paris-Roubaix in 2021 will be his final race. “I don’t want to stop like this. Paris-Roubaix two more times and then it’s time to get behind the wheel”, Wynants said in the interview.
Wynants actually intended to retire at the end of last year, but decided to go on for another year after the team’s impressive 2019 season. Though the Belgian had imagined his farewell season slightly differently. “It seems that everything has been canceled due to the coronavirus, but if we can still race for four months, that is already something. The season is not considered to be lost yet and I am still very eager to race”, he said.
“This way I don’t want to retire. That is why I decided to ride another spring in 2021. Therefore I am able to say goodbye as a cyclist under normal circumstances. Paris-Roubaix will be my last race. In principle, this is already possible in October because of the new calendar, but I would like to retire after a normal, full spring season. Paris-Roubaix is my favourite race. One with a lot of emotions. The way in which Tom Boonen (Wynants raced with Boonen for four years while racing for QuickStep) said goodbye in his Roubaix unconsciously may have played a role too. I would very much like to lead Wout van Aert or a teammate to the victory on the Velodrome.”
Wynants is of unprecedented value for Team Jumbo-Visma and has been playing a significant role in many successes of the team in recent years. That is why the team car is a logical next step. “Firstly, I will still play my role as team captain in the race”, the Belgian clarified.
“Our younger riders in the team for the spring races still need guidance. They all can ride their bikes very hard, but you have to be able to make the right decisions at the right time. You have to learn and know when to go fast and when you’d better save your energy. To choose your position. Then it is good that an experienced rider like me can still guide them. Even after my retirement, I want to pass on that experience.”
"I don’t want to stop like this. Paris-Roubaix two more times and then it’s time to get behind the wheel"
Wynants will initially learn the ropes at the development team. “The idea is that I learn everything about being a coach with them before I move on to the WorldTour team. However, I will also do some smaller professional races, but the Tour de France is not immediately on my program. I have been learning a lot about coaching for a while now. I have to take one more exam and then I will have my coaching degree”, he tells Het Nieuwsblad.
Wynants wasn’t able to clinch an individual victory in his professional career, but he did collect a series of podium places. He was also one of the major engines of Team Jumbo-Visma in the unique performance that the team delivered in the team time trial victory in the 2018 Tour of Britain.
“This corona crisis has made me realise how beautiful cycling is”, he continues. “Although it was a pleasure to put my body to rest in the past months. I had been going full throttle for seventeen years. It was good to give my body some rest. Now I am able to go and give my best on the roads again. And I have proven that I am still able to keep up with the other guys.”
Wynants will leave with the team on July 7th for a two-week altitude camp in the Zillertal in Austria. The Tour team won’t be there as they are having their preparation in Tignes, France. “I’m really looking forward to train with my teammates again for a long time. The last few months I’ve been training on my own enough. I will restart my season in Strade Bianche and then ride the Czech Cycling Tour with the younger guys. But my main role remains the same, team captain for the classics. Luckily for me, they don’t come until the end of the year. By then my body will definitely be back on track again”, he concluded with a wink.