Lars Bak will be part of the NTT Pro Cycling management staff in 2020 after accepting a role as assistant sports director with the team, formerly known as Dimension Data. The Dane spent the final season of his long racing career with Dimension Data before hanging up his wheels following Paris-Tours in October.
“I’m really happy that everything fell into place for me to take on this new challenge in my life but I now have to quickly switch my mindset from being a rider to that of being a sports director,” Bak said in a statement released by NTT Pro Cycling.
“Of course, it’s a big change and everything is going to be new for me, so I will be looking to listen and learn as much as possible from the excellent group of experienced guys already in the group. I’m effectively a trainee all over again as this is all new.”
Bak will link up with his compatriot and former Saxo Bank directeur sportif Lars Michaelsen, who is the head sports director at NTT. “Crucially, what I strongly remember from those years was a Lars Bak who was always constructive about how to tackle the next day’s race, seen from the team’s perspective; and that is the essence of what the job of a DS is all about,” Michaelsen said.
Bak will begin his new role at the team’s forthcoming training camp in Oliva, Spain, while his programme of races for 2020 has yet to be finalised.
“For me, I hope to start out in some of the smaller races but before that, next week, will be a learning process to do all of the relevant planning with all of my colleagues and learn the protocol of being a director,” Bak said.
Bak spent 20 seasons as a professional rider, including 17 at WorldTour level with CSC (later Saxo Bank), HTC-Columbia, Lotto Soudal and Dimension Data. He formed a vital part of André Greipel’s lead-out train for much of the second half of a career that also saw him win the Tour de l’Avenir in 2005 and a stage on the 2012 Giro d’Italia in Sestri Levante.
NTT’s new signings for 2020 include Victor Campenaerts and Max Walscheid, while Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Valgren and Giacomo Nizzolo are among those remaining at the team. Mark Cavendish has left for Bahrain-McLaren, while head of performance Rolf Aldag has also parted company with the team.