Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel has confirmed that she will not participate in the 2009/2010 cyclo-cross season as she takes time to contemplate her future in cycling. The former Dutch cyclo-cross Champion (2005 and 2008) and bronze medal winner at the 2005 World cyclo-cross Championships is considering her options in the wake of the withdrawal of her trade team, Flexpoint, from the women's peloton.
"I will decide by the end of the year whether or not I will continue racing on the road next season," she said. "Flexpoint has stopped after the 2009 road season and right now I don’t feel very motivated to search for a new team. On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to decide whether my career is over yet. When I say it’s over, it will really be over, so I’ve got to be certain of my decision."
This week, Melchers, 34, returned to her bike for the first time since the end of the women's road season. A two-time winner of the women's Tour of Flanders (2005, 2006) and the overall victor of the Holland Ladies Tour (2004), she has struggled to re-find the same level of success since a crash in September 2006 left her with a broken pelvis, hip and jaw. She will use the next few weeks to assess her enthusiasm for a seventh year as a professional.
"On my next few rides I need to discover whether the motivation for a new season is there. It’s ok if it isn't because I can look back at a lot of great results, but maybe I’ll decide to race next year. The moment I take that decision I will be able to contact teams, to see if anyone has got a spot for me next season."
Melchers admitted that the absence of her husband, Jean-Paul van Poppel, had been a difficult situation to adjust to this year. After a decade coaching his wife, van Poppel joined the Cervélo TestTeam as a sports director at the start of 2009.
"It’s great that he got this opportunity and I’ve always said he should do that. It’s been strange that I have to call him to say how my race went, whereas he'd normally have been there to see it himself. But that’s just a small part of my consideration.
"At my age you need to think about the future every year. I’ve always said I don’t want to race as long as Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli has; there should be time for other things in the future. But maybe I'll decide in the next few weeks that my future seems empty without cycling and I will continue for just one more year."
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