Thomas Dekker is satisfied with his first full year back in the peloton, even if it was hard at times. He is now looking forward to two more years with Garmin-Sharp, in what he calls a “long-term plan”.
He had a good season, with one win, he told Wielerland magazine. He also rode a Grand Tour, the Vuelta a Espana, and finished well in Amstel Gold Race, in 18th place and only 12 seconds down. “Being in the finale of a Classic is obviously different from a Classic win. I understand it very well. Winning is incredibly difficult. But it would be good if in the coming years I could be a sold top 10 performer in that kind of race.”
Dekker served a two-year suspension for EPO doping, and returned to racing in August 2008 with the Chipotle Development Team before moving up to the WorldTour team this season.
He knew the year would be hard, and it was. “In a Grand Tour like the Vuelta it eats you a little that you cannot show what you want to show. And you do not ride like you have in mind. That takes time and I am convinced that iI can still do it.”
Still, Dekker was happy enough to be in the race, for which he was nominated pretty much at the last minute. “I feel that I really took a step forward. My last Grand Tour dates back to 2007. Such an effort is just not trainable. It was awfully hard. Three weeks cycling is hard anyway, especially when you're in a peloton of 200 motivated riders.”
It was announced during the Vuelta that his contract would be extended for two years, something which he “never really doubted. I know that the team has confidence in me. It's obviously a long-term plan,” he said.
“It was never expected of me that I start in the first season with an upward trend that would take me to the top. That is not at all possible if you sit out as long as I did. I did not have to sit long in uncertainty. In July I heard that the team wanted to extend.”