Koen de Kort has announced his official retirement from professional racing after a long and distinguished career in which he built a reputation as one of the most respected and experienced road captains in the WorldTour.
The news comes two months after de Kort suffered a life-changing accident in which he lost three fingers in a non-cycling incident.
The 38-year-old will take up the shared role of Team Support Manager with Glen Leven at Trek-Segafredo, while Matt Shriver heads back to the United States to work on other projects at Trek.
De Kort turned professional in 2005 with Liberty Seguros having graduated through the Rabobank development team. He won a memorable stage into Chauvigny at the Tour de l'Avenir in 2005 but his career was best defined as a Classics rider and trusted domestique at Skil Shimano and later Trek-Segafredo where he worked alongside riders such as Jasper Stuyven, Edward Theuns, Mads Pedersen and John Degenkolb.
This season was already going to be de Kort's final year in the pro ranks, with a move into management already in the works. The mid-season accident may have ended his career by a few months but the Dutchman, despite the disappointment of the nature of his retirement is thoroughly looking forward to the challenge ahead as he moves into a new phase of his life.
"For me it's hard to leave cycling behind in this way for sure," de Kort said in an announcement from the Trek-Segafredo team on Monday.
"I'd much prefer to retire at a nice race and have my friends and family there, and have a party and that's it for professional cycling and move on to the next one. Now it's just ending with a massive downer, which is not the way that you want to end. But I am 38 years old, so it's been a nice career for sure. And I think I can be proud of what I have achieved and what I've done.
“The Dutch national championships being my last race was a bit of a surprise. But on the other hand, I'm also looking forward to what's coming and what's next. I'm super excited that I will be continuing with the team in a bit of a different role, as Team Support Manager with Trek-Segafredo.
Long-term mechanic Glen Leven will move into the same role as de Kort on the team and the Dutchman believes that their experience will help the team improve.
“I think that we are in a perfect spot because of Glen's background as an amazing mechanic, one of the best that I've ever worked with. He's experienced with the mechanical side of it - the frames and the components. I think my side of it, [I have experience] as a professional athlete, where I know really well what we need, and I think I can also communicate very well to partners and to riders. I think it's a great step in the right direction for the team and for Trek-Segafredo to have two people fill this role.”
"This is for sure something that I really wanted to do, it’s the job that I really wanted, and I tried really hard to get, way before my accident even happened. It's also why I studied sport management when I did, for a role like this. I like that side of it, I like the communication part, and especially when I found out that there was a possibility for me to get this role, I was super excited to really get into it. I think especially the connection between Trek as a company and the Factory Racing Team, as Trek-Segafredo is, that's really super interesting. I like the corporate side of it as much as I do the racing side, so I think it is a perfect combination of things for me to jump into."
"Now I'm here, and able to start after such a hard moment and life changing accident. That gives me a lot of confidence and a lot of trust that my future is going to be bright still.”
While de Kort and Leven will work in tandem, the move also sees Matt Shriver take a step back before moving back to the United States where he will work on new projects for Trek.
Shriver has been instrumental in the team's development over a number of years, and has worked closely with both the men's and women's set-ups at Trek-Segafredo.
"I'll definitely miss the camaraderie. I'll miss the team, and I'll miss all the people. The Trek family, the team family -- because really I spend a ton of time with them. And we're all from different cultures, but we still connect through cycling, through our passion," Shriver said.
The transition period will begin in September and last until November, at which point Shriver will move back to the US.
“Now, I'm looking even more at what Matt is doing, and how Matt is doing it. I have been working closely with him for the last one and a half years, so I have seen a little bit what he is doing. And we will start the transition in August, when we'll shadow Matt even more. And from there I guess it will go step by step, hand by hand, to get into the role,” said Leven.
"One of the biggest things is having two motivated guys that are coming into this role with tons of experience," Shriver said.
"We've expanded a lot. And now you have twice the knowledge to be able to help Trek, whether it's the men or the women. It's a big step for the team.”
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