Jef Braeckevelt will not be a directeur sportif at Katusha next season. The 68-year-old Belgian, who started out as a DS in 1964, has decided to put an end to his career in cycling.
Braeckevelt's contract with Katusha still ran through 2013, but the Flandrian preferred to resiliate it. "Some say that I was sacked by Katusha, but that's not true," Braeckevelt told Belgian news agency Belga. "There's a time to start and there's a time to leave. I'm 68 years old and long-distance travel doesn't appeal to me anymore. A new manager came [former Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holzcer - ed.] and there were new rules. They want to implement a new strategy at Katusha. As a directeur sporif, I was going to have to follow races in Australia, China and who knows where."
Braeckevelt started out as team director at Terrot-Leroux in 1964 and spent much of his time at Lotto (1989-1994), where current Katusha general manager Andrei Tchmil celebrated his greatest victories. "I have been a sports director for almost 50 years, and I can live with this decision," Braeckevelt continued. "We parted ways in friendship. I'm not turning my back on cycling altogether. Andrei Tchmil is still very active and I want to help him in regard to some particular projects."
Tchmil will be replaced by Holzcer as of next season, and has announced his aim to run for the presidency of the European Cycling Union ECU. Holczer, in turn, brought former Gerolsteiner DS Christian Henn with him to the team.