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Frederik Willems (Lotto-Belisol) high fives his daughter
Lotto-Belisol rider to end career after 13 years as a pro
Frederik Willems (Lotto-Belisol) has announced that he will retire at the end of this season. The 34-year-old crashed heavily while training earlier this month and is to undergo surgery on his broken collarbone and will have a MRI scan of his right knee. As a result, Willems is unsure whether he will recover in time for a farewell race.
Willems also suffered rib fractures, a shoulder blade fracture and concussion from the crash which doesn't remember anything from.
Willems announced his retirement during the stage 2 live broadcast of the Eneco Tour on Sporza having also tweeted earlier in the day; "Time to say goodbye my bike!End 2014 I finish my career as pro.proud the way I road it & people I worked with.I wouldn't do it i/a other way"
During the live broadcast, Willems told Sporza that; "It's been a while since I decided that I would stop. Last winter during long workouts, I already said to my wife that I did not know if I could do it much longer.
"The final decision to quit I made during the Dauphiné Libéré. Injuries have not been the reason for the decision. I've been a pro for 13 years and it became increasingly difficult to completely live for my profession"
The Belgian started his career as a stagiaire with Mapei-Quickstep in 2001 and has been with the Lotto team since 2011.
Earlier in the season, Willems suffered a double collarbone fracture during the first stage of the Three Days of De Panne and explained that he was devastated to have incurred the same injury twice in one year.
"I already crashed this year in the Three Days De Panne-Koksijde, where I incurred a collarbone fracture as well," he said. "It took a while to be back on a good level. Then I rode a strong national championship, that was a positive sign. In the period without races that followed I did a training camp. Normally I would start in the Eneco Tour. Now I'm looking forward to the operation and the start of my rehabilitation to get the feeling things are moving."
"According to doctor Toon Claes I have to take into account a recovery period of two months after the operation. If it only depends on the collarbone fracture, I will be on the bike after about three weeks. It will be very difficult to participate in races this season."
While uncertain whether he will race again before he hangs up his wheels, Willems said he has started to think about retirement and being able to spend more time with his family.
"My daughter is growing and I keep expanding social contacts outside the sport," he said. "Then you start to think more about life after cycling, [as] I am also 34-years-old."
Regardless of his recovery, Willems added that he will host an event to thank his supporters later in the year.
"On October 18, I am organising a big farewell with my fans in St. Laureins. During the weeks and months after that I'll see what comes, but I dream of coaching other athletes."