The 36-year-old turned professional with Rabobank in 1999 and has ridden at least one grand tour in every season since, becoming one of the team’s most recognised domestiques. In all he competed in 9 Tours de France, finishing third in the young rider’s classification in his first attempt in 2000.
“I’m now 36 years old, and have been active as a professional rider for seventeen years. At a certain point, you automatically start thinking about your future. In addition to that, I was given a nice chance to become a coach for the team now. When I look back at my career, what makes me proudest is my value for the team. Looking forward, first of all I want to conclude my life as a rider properly, and afterwards invest in my new career: coach.”
Although his career rarely saw him on the top step of the podium, Niermann relished being part of a successful squad and pointed to the 2000 Tour de France as his proudest moment.
“That would have to be my first Tour in 2000, the year we won four stages. I myself finished 24th, that was the best I achieved with the team. Of course I experienced other nice things as well; the role I was given, supporting Robert [Gesink] and the other good guys in the team. Looking back, that’s what I enjoyed the most, I felt most useful playing that role. Look, Dennis Menchov, Erik Dekker and Michael Boogerd knew the way themselves, but I was really there for those younger guys, I taught them an awful lot. I’ve got a good bond with Robert, that went well from the beginning, we always shared the room.”
“I am really optimistic about my life as an ex-rider. Because I am staying connected with the team, it’s not really a farewell. I don’t have the feeling that it’s all finished now. That provides a very natural start for my life after my sport. I had a really beautiful career, I’m satisfied. I’ll miss a lot of things, but I also had such a hard time this Vuelta, that will make my goodbye easier…”