David Dekker started his final season in the U23 ranks in flying form, with two wins and a third place in Le Samyn. In fact, not even a European lockdown could separate the U23 Dutch road race champion from victory, as he won his first SEG eRacing event a few weeks ago.
Cyclingnews caught up with the talented Dutch rider about his season, his hopes for turning pro and, of course, following in the footsteps of his father, Erik Dekker.
Cyclingnews: How has the season developed for you? Because obviously you started on the road but then quite quickly have found yourself racing online.
David Dekker: It was a dream start for me. Even with everything in the world that’s going on right now, I can look back to a successful start to the season. I won two races in Holland was then third in Le Samyn, which included riders and teams from the WorldTour.
The podium in Le Samyn was a surprise and wasn’t something that I saw coming a few months ago. There was a final group of around 12 riders, and eight were from the WorldTour, and I was the only Continental rider.
CN: You come from a family with long history in cycling. Your father was a pro for many years, even winning four stages of the Tour one year. Your older brother also raced, but what do you remember from your father’s career?
DD: I remember the last few years but I don’t have memories from the Tour de France stages. I was only two or three but he stopped racing in 2006 and I understood that my father was good at cycling because he was often on TV but I was certainly raised in a cycling world. Rabobank was like a family and, like I always say, my life has always had cycling in it.
Like you said, my brother raced too but he stopped after the first year at U23. He’s still involved in the sport and for the last few years he has been a directeur sportif. He coaches young riders and that’s really his passion.
CN: What sort of advantages and disadvantages does coming from a cycling family give you?
DD: Well, everyone wants to compare you. I started cycling when I was seven years old and I did my first official race a year later. At that point, my father was just coming to the end of his career and everyone was talking about him. Wherever I went, the first name everyone would say was my father’s name and then they’d mention me.
You get used to that and then over the years it becomes less and less. In the last few years, as I’ve started to get more results, the name pops up again but I don’t see it as a disadvantage. I’ve learned a lot from my dad and I like to talk about cycling with him.
CN: Has he encouraged you to get into the sport?
DD: When my brother and I picked up cycling it was totally our choices. We were free in that sense, but of course our dad liked it. I was never pushed and then in the last few years my dad has stayed in background, but if I ask for help then he’s there to help me.
CN: You’re the Dutch U23 national champion and, looking through your results, would you say that you’re predominately a sprinter?
DD: Last year, I learned how good I was at sprinting. I’ve improved a lot and when I look at Le Saymn, of course it ended with a sprint. The Classics are the races that I love the most – racing full-gas – but I still have to figure out the type of rider that I really am. Maybe I’m a sprinter or a Classics rider, or something in between, but I’m still young an I have time to figure that out.
CN: Maybe you’ll become an eRacing specialist give your record from the last few weeks?
DD: We did a lot of racing on Zwift and it’s totally different to road racing. It’s fun but very hard. I still prefer road racing over online racing.
CN: We don’t know how long the current lockdown will last officially and when racing will return, but are you already thinking about 2021 as your debut season in the WorldTour?
DD: I’ve confidence that the situation will turn out in a good way. I’m in a good team and I’ve shown myself in the first few races of the new season. I have some results from the previous year and in a team like SEG I have confidence that things will work out.
It’s a hard time, it’s new for everyone, and I think that a lot will change in cycling, but I’m confident that I’ll have pro contract at the end of the year. I had one big goal this season and it’s turning professional. I’m aiming big and for the WorldTour.
CN: What team are you looking to join?
DD: In the perfect situation I just want to be in a team that gives me chances to show myself and to develop. I want time to make errors because that’s part of the process. It’s not about how much money I can earn; I want to be in team where I feel that they have my best interests at heart.