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Van Petegem, Baguet retire amid cheers and tears

By Bjorn Haake

Quick.Step-Innergetic's Peter van Petegem and Serge Baguet have contested their last race as professionals at the annual Kermis race in Desselgem, Belgium, retiring from illustrious careers that included Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Belgian championship victories. The race of choice was the GP Briek Schotte, a 155 kilometre race in Desselgem. The nine-kilometre course was lapped so quick on each of the 17 laps that spectators barely had time to venture off and get a braadworst (sausage) or a waffle.

Some decided to wait it out with some beer on bar tables especially set up on the side walks so people could watch the racers whiz by. The rain had stopped when the race started and later the sun even came out. So conditions for a good race and consuming good food and beer were perfect.

The race had Quick.Step-Innergetic written all over it, but it was Steven De Jongh who took the win and not the guests of honour. Both Baguet and van Petegem were 'stuck' in the peloton with the front group dominated by three guys from the Belgian team.

Fittingly, after the race the ceremony for De Jongh was brief, with the spectators shouting "Merci, Peter" and eventually the two newly retired racers came onto the podium. Van Petegem brought his son and wife, who was in tears as she threw a bouquet that her husband had given to her into the audience. The wild fight over the souvenir ended up smashing the flowers.

But things didn't stop there, as more items came flying into the audience. A pair of sun glasses, arm warmers, hats and eventually a jersey. Van Petegem started to remove his shorts, too, but quickly thought better of it. As the audience kept singing and van Petegem kept playing the conductor, Baguet had quietly left.

Former Paris-Roubaix winner van Petegem stayed around to shake hands and pose for photographs, before using his bike a final time to ride from the podium to the car. Both van Petegem and Baguet have been featured in the past on Cyclingnews.com.

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