Jasper De Buyst grew up racing on the track but turned his focus to the road with Lotto Soudal after falling ill at the 2016 Olympic Games and ending his omnium bid after the first day of racing. Currently racing with Roger Kluge at the Gent Six Day, De Buyst said he might return to the track and target the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Speaking to Sporza from 't Kuipke, De Buyst indicated that the possibility that Kenny De Ketele - with whom De Buyst won the Gent Six Day in 2014 - could be moving into the position as head coach for the Belgian national team makes the idea of returning to track racing attractive.
"I don't rule out investing in the track with a view to Paris," De Buyst said. "It's also no secret that Kenny might become national team manager. I think there are opportunities to work together. But I first want to wait and see who will actually take the place of national coach. I am certainly open to a conversation.
Although he still intends to race on the road, the proximity of the 2024 Games makes combining disciplines more feasible than the last Olympics in Brazil and Japan.
"The fact that the next Games are really close to home also makes it easier in terms of travel, jet lag and planning. But everything starts with who will be the national coach, that conversation and whether we get everything on the same page – also with my employer. And then things are possible."
De Buyst said he would not target Paris as revenge for his disappointing 2016 Olympic outing where he contracted an intestinal infection and struggled at the back of the opening races in the Omnium, which was eventually won by Elia Viviani. "I don't have good memories of that and that chapter is also closed. I certainly don't want to do this with feelings of revenge, that would be a bad motivation. But it would be nice to return to the Games."
De Buyst is finding the sudden shift from the road season to the Six Day in Gent, where he won in 2013 with Leif Lampater and again in 2014 with De Ketele, difficult, but the team ended day four in third place and on the same lap as the leaders, Michael Mørkøv and Lasse Norman Hansen.
"This is the tenth time that I am on a track bike in two years," De Buyst said. "I have to suffer a little here during the Six Days of Gent, but I can participate. So I think there are opportunities to ride more on the track and train, pick up races and build up. I think that is necessary, because track cycling has changed in the past five to seven years: the resistance, but also the way of racing. The sprints count more. That doesn't have to be a disadvantage. But I'll have to adjust a bit. At the moment I am not ahead of the other guys who want to."
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