On 12th October 2019 I competed in the Giro di Lombardia in Italy. That was it. I rode my last race as a professional cyclist.
Early the next morning, we - Sam Oomen, Stefan Bolt and I - had made a plan. The idea was to ride our bikes all the way from Lombardia to Lecchi in Chianti – that’s over 500 kilometers in only two days.
#transit – which was made into a film by LSRF (live slow ride fast) – was my way of saying goodbye to the peloton, but this journey also marked my transition from pro cyclist to pro adventurer.
I chose Lecchi because that’s where my manager João has a B&B. I hadn’t been on my annual trip there yet that year and really wanted to thank him for his support over the years. It also meant revisiting many of the beautiful places I was lucky enough to experience during my professional cycling career.
It was going to be a special farewell, so why the rush? Admittedly our speedy itinerary didn’t follow my newly-found ‘live slow’ philosophy, but it was my son’s fifth birthday the day after we would arrive in Lecchi – and family time is high on the live-slow agenda.
The route led us through stunning, varied and challenging terrain. From the Po Plain to the stunning, rugged Cinque Terre coastal area, through iconic Tuscan vineyards and cypress-lined hills. And one of the best things about riding in Tuscany is being able to get great food and drink wherever you stop!
It was an emotional trip, to say the least, digging deep into the reserves of everybody who joined us in making both the trip and the film a reality.
Day 1 of our journey was a tale of two halves - the first part fast-rolling and flat, passing through the Po Valley, the second part very hilly before descending back down towards the coast.
Including the beautiful Cinque Terre area of northwestern Italy was my idea, even though it meant adding a few…
We still had 278 kilometers ahead of us and today we also faced over 3000 meters of climbing. Nevertheless, we started the day in high spirits!
The iconic panoramic views, colorful houses and steep terraces of the Cinque Terre accompanied us for the first part of the day before we headed back inland…
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Less than 25 kilometers to go to our finish in Lecchi in Chianti but God, did we have to dig deep to keep going.
Thankfully, João jokingly reminded me that I was technically still his athlete and shouldn’t dare even think about getting in the car.
It was pitch black, we were exhausted and I was getting…
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