Mario Aerts is set to become a directeur sportif at the newly-formed Lotto-Ridley team next season. The 36-year-old Belgian is currently riding for Omega Pharma-Lotto and will retire from racing at the end of the current campaign.
“The contract isn’t signed yet, but that will come,” Aerts told Het Nieuwslad. The 2002 Flèche Wallonne winner acknowledged that he will need time to grow into his role.
“They certainly won’t throw me into the Tour straight away, and I’ll have to respect the hierarchy, but this time I don’t mind. The important thing is that I can continue to work in an environment that I know and that I have another goal.”
The Lotto-Ridley team begins operations next season under the management of Marc Sergeant following the announcement that Omega Pharma and Lotto would go their separate ways in cycling sponsorship.
In June, Aerts announced his decision to retire from racing at the end of the season, citing ongoing struggles with cardiac arrhythmia. He has suffered from the condition for a number of years, but explained that it had become more of a problem in the past twelve months and caused him to tire more quickly while racing.
“Last year the discomfort disappeared after a while, but now it seems more persistent,” Aerts said.
Aerts will line up in the GP Fourmies on Sunday, but refused to divulge when his last race will be as he wants to end his career with a minimum of fuss. "I will not party; I don’t want a special criterium. I will ride my last race and maybe have a glass of champagne," Aerts explained earlier in the summer.