Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) will become a directeur sportif after he draws his 15-year pro career to an end on Sunday. The 36-year-old announced his retirement last month, and the Famenne Ardenne Classic will be his final race.
Monfort, who has raced with Lotto Soudal for the past six seasons, will make the switch to the team car immediately and work with five other directeurs sportif for the rest of the season and throughout the 2020 season.
"Originally I did not intend to end my professional cycling career this year, but I only received a proposal to renew my contract at the end of August, while at the same time general manager John Lelangue asked me to become a sports director," said Monfort in a team press release.
"It came somewhat unexpected, but at that moment, I felt the time was right and besides, the opportunity presented itself. After the Tour de France, I did already think about my future and the idea to retire was already there, independent of the proposition to become sports director. Eventually, it only took two days to make the decision, but I had already put a lot of thought into it."
Monfort will retire with five career victories to his name, including the 2009 Belgian time trial championship, the 2004 Tour of Luxembourg, and the 2010 Bayern Rundfahrt, as well as time trial victories at both those stage races.
The Belgian is not the only rider to make the transition this season, with EF Education First's Matti Breschel already having done so, undergoing training for the role at the Vuelta a España.
"For the past six years, I raced at the Lotto Soudal team, so I know the staff, riders and the way of working," added Monfort. "It is nice to start my career as a sports director like that.
"It certainly won’t be easy to immediately make the switch from pro rider to sports director, but I am 100 per cent sure of my decision. For example. during the first training camp, it will maybe feel a bit weird to exchange the bike for the car, but I am fully ready.
"There are a lot of differences between a cyclist and a sports director. It may be the same sector, but it is something completely different. I think there are more benefits to a job as sports director; I don’t have to train anymore, and I don’t have to pay attention to what I can or cannot eat.
"Now, I will be able to enjoy life a little more, but at the same time doing what I love. I am very proud of my career, but the moment has come, and I definitely won’t regret it."
Lotto Soudal's 2020 sports directors will include Monfort, Mario Aerts, Herman Frison, Kurt Van De Wouwer, Marc Wauters and Frederik Willems.
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