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Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet) won the sprint prize.
Cites a new career as catalyst for change
Lotto Belisol's Dirk Bellemakers announced on his website on Thursday that he was making his formal retirement from professional cycling.
Bellemakers started professional cycling with the Belgian UCI Continental Van Vliet - EBH Advocaten team in 2004. In 2008 he made the step up to UCI Pro Continental ranks when he transferred to Landbouwkrediet – Tönissteiner ,the team now known as Crelan – Euphony, a team he remained with until the end of 2012.
Bellemakers, who turns 30 next January, signed a one-year contract with Lotto-Belisol last year to make the step up to the WorldTour level. Bellemakers stated that he is now ending his career with his head held high.
"I enjoyed the past seven years in the professional cycling scene with commitment, character and full dedication," he said. "The sport of cycling has given me a suitcase full of memories and a lot of experiences. I wouldn't have missed this period for the world. I end my cycling career with my head held high.
"I am not excluding the possibility that I will return to cycling," the Dutchman continued. "My involvement with and passion for the sport is too big. My degree in commercial economics will help me further. Where I will work and what I will do, is too early to tell."
The biggest win in Bellemakers' career was the GP Stad Geraardsbergen in 2008, the Belgian pro kermesse that races repeated laps on the lower slopes of the Muur van Geraardsbergen. The majority of his work whilst racing this year with Lotto was done in the role of a domestique. Bellemakers will round out his career with the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, the Tour of Lombardy (Il Lombardia) and finally Paris-Tours.
Bellemakers finished his statement with:
"Of course I would have like to announce my retirement differently. I am also aware there is a crisis in cycling at the moment and therefore hope this step I took represents the right decision. I have no arguments not do it.
"I greet and thank all my supporters who have been supporting me throughout all these years."