Mattan retiring with a bang

Mattan (DFL - during a time trial,

Mattan (DFL - during a time trial, (Image credit: Eddy Grayaert)

By Paul Verkuylen

Nico Mattan ( has decided to bring his career to an end after 13 years as a professional and 12 wins. Mattan began his career in 1994 with Lotto as a domestique for his good friend, Frank Vandenbroucke.

In 1999, the same year he finished for the first time on the podium in Gent-Wevelgem, he was forced to temporarily end his career due to a heart condition. After a trip to the USA, Mattan was given the thumbs up to return to the professional ranks and quickly re-established himself with two wins in 2000.

Known as a Classics specialist, Mattan defined his career around the Spring Classics. Although he never won a Tour de Flanders or a Paris-Roubaix, Mattan was one of the most well respected Classics riders of his generation, and capped his classics career off in 2005 with a win in the semi-classic Gent-Wevelgem, traditionally run on the Wednesday between Flanders and Roubaix. His highest finish in Flanders was fifth (2003) and ninth in Paris-Roubaix (2002). Other highlights of his career were two wins in the prologue of Paris–Nice (2001, 2003).

Over the years Mattan has always enjoyed passing on his knowledge to younger riders. In 2004 he spent a season as captain of the Relax Bodysol team, which was set up as a development squad by Patrick Lefevere, but due to a conflict of interest, the parent company Omega Pharma was also sponsor of Quick.Step-Davitamon, the team folded at the end of the year. Mattan spent the following two seasons riding for Davitamon-Lotto before again opting to take a leadership/guidance role with the DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed squad for his final season. His experience and knowledge of the Spring Classics were a major factor for the team's strong showing in races such as Gent-Wevelgem this year.

To celebrate his career, the Nico Mattan fan club has organised a farewell celebration in the Belgian town of St Eloois Winkel on Sunday, October 7. The festivities include a two-up time trial as well as a "Gentleman's race" before a party continues with DJ's and lots of Belgian beer. More information on the celebrations can be found at the official website.

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