Jolien D'hoore has told Cyclingnews that she will retire from professional bike racing at the end of this year but that she is not counting down the days.
The Belgian sprinter has had a successful 15-year career in both road and track racing, and she intends to enjoy her final year in the pro peloton with SD Worx, while also focusing on competing in the Madison at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
"I don’t want to count down every race I’m doing this season," D'hoore told Cyclingnews. "I just want to have fun and make the best out of every race together with my team. I’m proud to be part of Team SD Worx so I’ll give it my all in every opportunity I get."
D'hoore extended her contract with SD Worx through the end of 2021, which marks her third season with the programme, after joining the team under their former Boels Dolmans banner in 2019.
In her first season with the team she won a stage at Emakumeen Bira and two stages of the OVO Energy Women's Tour. However, she suffered two injuries with a broken collarbone in the spring and then a broken elbow in the summer, which curtailed parts of her season.
Last year, early-season racing was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic but during the late-season revised calendar she won Gent-Wevelgem. She crossed the line first at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, too, but was then relegated for irregular sprinting, and officials awarded the victory to Lorena Wiebes.
In 2021, D'hoore will focus on a full Spring Classics campaign that includes Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Ronde van Drenthe, which is currently looking to move to an October date, Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, Gent–Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and the inaugural Paris–Roubaix.
"That’s the goal," D'hoore told Cyclingnews. "Hopefully, I can start at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad through to Paris-Roubaix. It’s hard to pick a race to target because we have a strong team and we need to see what each of our goals are, but my personal goals would be at the flatter races like De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem. I would be happy if I could have a win at one of those races."
D'hoore is one of the most high-profile female road and track cyclists from Belgium. She said that winning Tour de Flanders on home soil has always been a dream, but that she may not have the opportunity to do so, given its challenging terrain, and the strength of the SD Worx roster.
"Being in Belgium, the Tour of Flanders is one of the most prestigious races that there is on the calendar," D'hoore said. "It’s also one of the hardest races, especially for me. My plan is always just to follow and try to hang on but I’ve always come up short in the final. It was always one of my big dreams to win it, but it’s a hard race, so I think it will stay a dream."
Following the Spring Classics, D'hoore will turn her attention to the Olympic Games, where she will race for a medal with Madison partner Lotte Kopecky.
"Lotte and I will be partners at the Olympics in the Madison," she said. "We have a strong team and Lotte is really strong because, in general, she can ride fast for a long time, and I’m a sprinter. The combination between us is really good. A big goal for us is the Olympic Games, and so if our tactics are good and we are in top shape, then we should aim for a medal."
D'hoore will then look to close out her career with the Belgian national team at the 2021 UCI Road World Championships, set to take place in Flanders at the end of September.
"It’s a big focus for me to race the World Championships in Belgium," D'hoore said. "There isn’t that much pressure on me and there is also Lotte Kopecky, who is doing really well. The course is hard, similar to Amstel, so I don’t expect a bunch sprint or even small group. It will be a hard race and I just want to enjoy it and see how it goes – no pressure."
D'hoore started racing professionally on the road in 2008 with Topsport Vlaanderen, and she has since raced for teams Lotto Belisol Ladies, Wiggle High5 and Mitchelton-Scott before moving over to Danny Stam's Boels Dolmans, now SD Worx team.
Her other major victories include winning Tour of Chongming Island, PostNord Vargarda, Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem, Omloop van het Hageland, Diamond Tour, Madrid Challenge, and stages at the Women's Tour and Giro Rosa. On the track, she won the bronze medal in the Omnium at the 2016 Olympic Games and the world title in the world title in the Madison in 2017.
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