This week sees another retirement of one of the nice guys of cycling. When he put the hammer down, Michael Boogerd's trademark grin/grimace exposed a gleaming, straight row of the whitest teeth that almost seemed to light the road in front of him. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins looks back at the career of the Boogie-Man from Den Haag.
Aged 35, Michael Boogerd chose to end his fourteen season career while still riding at the top of the sport. Unlike some before him, he chose to quit while he's still able to be competitive in the Classic races that he loves and specialises in. However, an infected knee landed him in the hospital earlier this week, dashing his hopes of having Saturday's Giro di Lombardia as his last big professional race. He still plans to make a showing at his farewell criterium in the Netherlands and likely the Amstel Curaçao Race on the tropical Dutch island on November 3.
Not starting Lombardia, Boogerd's career will now end with an uncharacteristic fizzle, which is a sad end for a rider who has spent his career animating races with his relentless attacks. In 2006, his team manager Theo De Rooy that he and his older team-mate Erik Dekker looked like a couple of juniors at the start of the Dutch championships: "A heartbeat of 120, waiting for the start, then 'Whoof!', full gas y'know, like, 'Let's see if we can make a decisive split on the first lap of this circuit,'" he recalled.
This youthful spirit has followed Boogerd throughout his career, and while sometimes it propelled him to victory, such as that 2006 Dutch championship, two stages of the Tour de France, the 1999 Amstel Gold race, and the 1999 Paris-Nice, it more than not saw him overhauled in the finale by a fresher rider. Boogerd finished second in no fewer than eight Classics – twice in Lombardia, twice in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and four times in the Amstel Gold race. However, his misses never dampened his spirit, and in the next race he'd be back on the attack in his familiar manner.
Read the full Boogerd news feature.