Dierckxsens says goodbye

Ludo Dierckxsens rode his last race on Sunday in Tessenderlo in front of a huge crowd of fans. Of course, he was allowed to win the race after attacking the peloton on the last lap. The recently turned 41 year old finished a 12 year professional career that was marked as much by his aggressively fun character as it was by his results. He turned pro at age 29 with Saxon, and in 1996 started to show himself with a seventh place in the Omloop Het Volk. In 1997 he scored his first victories: in the Grand Prix Denain, Zellik-Galmaarden, and Hasselt-Spa-Hasselt, also finishing second in the Belgian championship that year.

Dierckxsens signed for Lotto in 1998 and performed even better, winning Paris-Bourges, finishing 2nd in the Grand Prix Ouest France and a stage of the Vuelta a España, 3rd in the Hew Cyclassics Cup, and 12th in Paris-Roubaix. He changed to Lampre in 1999 and scored his biggest wins: stage 11 in the Tour de France along with the Belgian road championship. But he was then suspended by his team for not telling the team doctor about a corticosteroid treatment and spent some time out of competition.

In 2001, still with Lampre, he had a good season without any wins. He finished 2nd in a stage of the Tour de France, 6th in Paris-Roubaix, and 8th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. In 2002 he was 2nd in the Tour of Belgium, 3rd in a stage of the Tour de France, and fourth in the GP Rik van Steenbergen. He signed for LAndbouwkrediet-Colnago in September 2002 and spent the next three seasons with them. He had two wins during that period: GP D'ouverture La Marseillaise in 2003 and a stage in the Tour of Austria in 2004.

His 2005 season was always going to be his last, and he had intended to stop in June, but a crash in Paris-Roubaix damaged the ligaments in his right hip. He decided to recover and race the latter half of the season before finishing his career today in front of an adoring public.

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