Thomas Dekker Retires from Cycling

Cites unrenewed contract, hour record shortfall

Thomas Dekker has been a professional cyclist since 2005, though he served a two-year ban for doping starting in 2009. (Wikimedia Commons)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dutch cyclist Thomas Dekker has announced his plans to retire from the sport, effective immediately, according to a brief announcement he posted Friday on his personal website. He cited a need to pursue fulfillment outside of his work as an athlete.

“My whole life up to now was dominated by cycling—but I do not want to depend on my form, my equipment, my team, anyone, or anything any longer,” Dekker wrote. “My cycling career was beautiful, ugly, intense, and edifying. I’m ready for a new step. Without my bike.”

The announcement follows a succession of recent setbacks in Dekker’s career. The 30-year-old cyclist first turned pro in 2005 with Rabobank, going on to show impressive performances at the Tour of Poland and Criterium International and capturing overall victories at the GP Stad Zottegem, the Tirreno-Adriatico, and the Tour de Romandie, according to Cyclingnews. After signing with Silence-Lotto in 2008, Dekker was banned from the sport in 2009 for two years for using performance-enhancing drugs, a practice he confessed had been “a way of life” for him and his teammates during a 2013 interview with Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

After his ban expired, Dekker returned to cycling, taking a spot on the Garmin-Cervelo development team. When it appeared that his contract would not be renewed, Dekker turned his efforts to attempting to break the record for farthest distance covered in one hour. As Outside wrote in June, a growing number of competitive cyclists have been drawn to the one-hour record after the UCI reduced restrictions on the design of bikes that could be used in the event, which generally made the vehicle faster and more aerodynamic.

Dekker’s performance at the velodrome in Aguascalientes, Mexico, rendered a final distance of 52.221 kilometers (32.449 miles). While extremely impressive, it fell short of the world record set by Rohan Dennis earlier that month, as Outside reported.

“My last hour as a cyclist I gave it my all in Mexico, during the attack on the world record. I wanted to prove I can still ride fast, and also I wanted to know whether I still want to be a cyclist,” Dekker wrote in his statement. “The answer now, a few weeks after the attack on the record, is clear to me.”

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