What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lotto Belisol: Jurgen Van de Walle finishes his career as a cyclist

The Giro di Lombardia was probably the last race of Jurgen Van de Walle. On Friday 11th of October the 36-year old man from West-Flanders would say goodbye in the local race of Zwevezele, but an injury of his left leg seems to change these plans. Wally became pro in 1999 and three seasons ago he came to the Lotto team, where he was a valued helper.

Three times he could throw the arms in the air himself, two times at the finish of Halle – Ingooigem. There was also the collective victory with QuickStep in the team time trial at the Tour of Qatar in 2008. Van de Walle ranked high a few other times, in 2008 and 2009 he became second in a stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné. In 2010 he was third in the Brabantse Pijl. Van de Walle took part in all Grand Tours and rode nine in total. This year’s Vuelta was his last one. We look back with Wally on his career and asked him how he saw cycling evolve.

Jurgen Van de Walle: “The Giro di Lombardia will probably have been my last race. I have a problem with my left leg, the consequence of a crash in the Vuelta. My leg feels sleepy, that’s why I didn’t have power in Lombardia and abandoned. I’ll be present in Zwevezele on Friday, but normally I won’t get on the bike unless there’s a spectacular improvement.”

“When I started as a professional cyclist I definitely would have signed for this career. I am a pure helper, I don’t have the explosiveness to be a finisher. Soon I knew what qualities I had and built my career around it. When I rode in the bigger teams, I could become valuable as a helper. Winning yourself is always a great moment, you dream of it when you start cycling. I’m not the winning type, so the times I could, made me very happy.”

“Already since I was a child the Tour was one of my favourite races, actually all Grand Tours. Taking part in the Tour stays something special, I’ll always remember entering the Champs Elysées. I love all uphill races. My classic will always be Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I always found that the most beautiful race. What I’ll always recollect is when as a neo pro I took part in the Tour of Flanders for the first time and the moment I rode from ‘t Zand to the Markt of Bruges, there were so many people. I am from the area and knew a lot of people, that was thrilling.”

“Cycling has evolved a lot throughout the years, with slight exaggeration one can say it has almost become another sport. In the beginning with Palmans we went to the races in a transit bus, now that’s with the luxurious bus of Lotto Belisol. The amount of staff is three times more. On top of that the last five years there is a tendency to make the races as tough as possible. With the establishment of the ProTour and later the WorldTour much has changed. Everything is more professional, but there’s also more pressure on the riders.”

1999 – 2000: Palmans – Ideal
2001: Landbouwkrediet – Colnago
2002: Vlaanderen – T-interim – Eddy Merckx
2003: Vlaanderen T-Interim
2004: Chocolade Jacques – Wincor – Nixdorf
2005: Landbouwkrediet – Colnago
2006 – 2007: QuickStep – Innergetic
2008 – 2010: QuickStep
2011: Omega Pharma – Lotto
2012 – 2013: Lotto Belisol

2000: Stage 1 Circuito Montañes
2008: Stage 1 Tour of Qatar (TTT)
2009: Halle – Ingooigem
2010: Halle – Ingooigem

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