Nikolas Maes – who rode his last race as a professional at the Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne in October – will take on a new role as a sports director at Lotto Soudal in 2021. The 34-year-old has ridden for the Belgian WorldTour squad for the past four seasons, and will now use his expertise and knowledge to work with the younger members of the team.
During his 14-year career, Maes rode for Chocolade Jacques and QuickStep – often in the service of Tom Boonen at the latter – and then joined Lotto Soudal for the 2017 season. Although he mainly rode as a domestique, the Belgian also won a stage at the 2009 Vuelta a Burgos and took the overall classification at the two-day World Ports Classic in 2013.
"I'm already preparing for my second career in the construction and real estate industry, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to lend a hand to Lotto Soudal," Maes said in a press release on Monday. "Cycling is, and will always be, my passion."
Maes has talked about how much he enjoyed mentoring younger riders later in his career, and will get that opportunity once more in his new role.
"The Classics are my field," he continued. "The team is counting on my experience, but I'm also looking forward to integrating all those many young, new and youthful talents into the team. This is a project that I'm looking forward to getting started in, and so 2021 will be a very instructive year for me."
Lotto Soudal's general manager, John Lelangue, added: "We love not to waste the expertise we have in-house. We're continuing what we started last year with [former rider] Maxime Monfort – our new performance manager. Nikolas will be deployed in the spring and will take care of the youth in the team.
"He has plenty of experience, and knows the team like the back of his hand. Over the past four seasons, Nikolas has shown himself to be an indispensable link at Lotto Soudal during the spring Classics," said Lelangue.
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