Stijn Devolder calls time on 18-year career

Two-time Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder has opted to retire at the age of 40. The Corendon-Circus rider decided not to return for the 2020 season after consultation with his family.

Devolder's 18-year pro career has seen him with seven teams, turning professional with Vlaanderen-T Interim back in 2002 after a stint as a stagiaire with Mapei-QuickStep. A move to US Postal saw him win Driedaagse De Panne, finish 11th at the Vuelta a España and finish third at E3 Harelbeke before moving on to QuickStep and his greatest successes.

His time at the Belgian team saw him take victory at both the 2008 and 2009 Tour of Flanders, becoming only the sixth person to retain the title. Devolder acted as second in command to team leader Tom Boonen during those races, slipping away to solo victories.

At the 2008 edition, Devolder attacked on the Eikenmolen, racing the final 25km alone before crossing the line in the Belgian national champion's jersey. A year later, he attacked an elite lead group on the Muur van Geraardsbergen, racing to the win as, once again, the chasers were unable to respond.

"I already made the decision this summer," Devolder told the Belga news agency. "The age is starting to bother me. I had the opportunity to ride with Corendon and Mathieu van der Poel this year, I decided to continue. But now the plan is to stop quietly.

"My first win at the Tour of Flanders is the highlight of my career. I realised a dream in the Belgian tricolour. The following year I won again and I was also on the podium three times to receive the Belgian [national champion's] jersey. I believe that I can look back on a great career.

"Now I am going to sell agricultural machinery. I've always had a passion for those things. It's something completely different from cycling, but it's something I'll do with the same enthusiasm and full commitment."

Devolder's QuickStep stint proved the most fruitful of his career, also winning the Tour of Austria, Volta ao Algarve and two Tours of Belgium. He also took both his national time trial titles while at the team, as well as two of his three national road race titles.

As well as putting his own name in the record books, Devolder has also worked for some of the leading classics riders of the day, assisting Boonen to his 2008 and 2009 Paris-Roubaix wins, as well as helping Fabian Cancellara to his third Flanders win in 2013. At his final participation in the race earlier this year, he worked for Mathieu van der Poel, who took fourth after a blazing comeback from a crash.

After leaving QuickStep in 2010, Devolder spent time at Vacansoleil, Leopard and Verandas Willems before moving to Corendon-Circus for the 2019 season. Acting as a road captain in his later years, especially in the spring Classics, the last of Devolder's 17 career victories came at the National Championships in 2013. 

Earlier in the day it was also announced that Tom Meeusen would also be leaving Corendon-Circus, with the two parties having come to a "mutual agreement" to not extend the rider's contract for another year. He is reportedly on the move to the Maes-Hens cyclo-cross team for 2020.

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