Dutch one day classic specialist Erik Dekker has announced his retirement at the end of 2006, and will finish his career with Rabobank, the team he has ridden for for the last 10 years. "The end has to come one day," said Dekker. "I want to quit racing at a good level. I think I can still reach that level next year."
Dekker said that he is more than happy to continue with Rabobank: "I am in a great team with a great sponsor. Besides that, there is a very positive development with young, talented riders in our team. It's interesting for me to be able to watch that development from close by for another year."
After he stops, he is not sure what he'll do next. "There's still a lot of time to think about that," said Dekker. For now I'm really happy that I can stay for one more year with Rabobank."
"Erik is a rider who is very close to our heart," said team manager Theo de Rooij. "He lives for his sport and as a rider he will always attack. A rider like Erik Dekker just belongs to the Rabo Cycling Team."
2006 will mark Dekker's 11th season with Rabobank, and together with Michael Boogerd, Richard Groenendaal and Jan Boven, he forms the quartet of riders that has been riding for Rabobank since the start of the team in 1996 [Dekker turned pro on September 21, 1992].
A four time Dutch national champion, Dekker also won the World Cup overall in 2001, won three classics (Clasica San Sebastian 2000, Amstel Gold Race 2001 and Paris - Tours 2004, and scored four stage victories in the Tour de France. He was awarded the Dutch Athlete of the year in 2001, and was chosen as best Dutch cyclist of the year in 2000, 2001 and 2004.
Dekker also won the overall classification of the Tour of the Netherlands three times (1997, 2000 and 2004) plus the overall victories in Vuelta a Andalucia (2001), Rheinland Pfalz Rundfahrt (2001), Tirreno-Adriatico (2002) and GP Erik Breukink (2003).