Jurgen Van den Broeck will bring the curtain down on his professional career when he lines up at Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen in Belgium on Tuesday. The 34-year-old announced his intention to retire at the end of the season during May’s Giro d’Italia, and he has raced just three times since he reached Milan in 91st place overall.
Van den Broeck signed a two-year contract with LottoNL-Jumbo ahead of the 2017 season but opted out of the second year of the deal, citing diminished motivation.
"The closer the last race comes, the stranger it becomes. You start to feel, ‘oh, it's over,’" Van den Broeck told Sporza.
"You are happy on one hand, but on the other, a part of your life is over and that part is never coming back. I'm saying goodbye in my own country on Tuesday, though, and that’s more fun than just stopping abroad. I think sometimes that I'm sorry to stop, but I'm happy with my career.”
Van den Broeck turned professional with US Postal Service in 2004 before moving to Marc Sergeant’s Lotto squad in 2007, where he enjoyed his greatest success as a rider. After signalling his potential with a seventh-place finish at the 2008 Giro d’Italia, Van den Broeck proceeded to place fifth overall at the 2010 Tour de France, a result that was eventually upgraded to third following Alberto Contador’s positive test for clenbuterol and Denis Menchov’s biological passport violation.
Van den Broeck was only upgraded to third in 2014, however, and having missed the experience of standing on the podium in Paris, he said that he did not feel as though he had placed third at the Tour. “To me, I'm still fifth,” he said.
Although Van den Broeck went on to place fourth overall at the 2012 Tour de France, he enjoyed only fleeting success thereafter, and never again finished in the top 10 of a Grand Tour. Third place overall at the 2014 Critérium du Dauphiné and a Belgian national time trial title showcased his ability, but his lone victory at the WorldTour level came when he won a stage of the Dauphiné in 2011. That same year, his Tour challenge was ended by a heavy crash in the opening week.
“Whenever I fell, I broke something. I think that was because of the extreme diet of a rider,” Van den Broeck said.
After placing 12th at the 2015 Giro with Lotto Soudal, Van den Broeck moved on to Katusha in 2016 before joining LottoNL-Jumbo ahead of the current campaign.
Van den Broeck said that he has no firm plans for what he'll do upon retirement, but would like to stay involved in the sport in some capacity. "I don’t see myself as a trainer, because I haven’t the background for that, I think. But maybe I could do something to help coaches and riders.”
Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws, meanwhile, Van den Broeck was succinct about his decision. “Training, diets and everything around cycling have suddenly become too much for me. The sign was to stop," Van den Broeck said.
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