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"I'm tense in a different way. For the first time in my career, I forgot my shoes. Maybe there is more emotion involved. It seems to be difficult for men to complete common tasks when they are mixed with emotions."

Photo: Sirotti






15.06.2016 @ 16:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dutchman Maarten Tjallingii starts his last race as a professional cyclist today at home in The Netherlands. After the Ster ZLM Toer, the 38-year-old of team LottoNL-Jumbo will quit and leave a long career behind. In the coming days, he will do everything possible to finish his career in style.


"I'm tense in a different way. For the first time in my career, I forgot my shoes,” Tjallingii said. "Maybe there is more emotion involved. It seems to be difficult for men to complete common tasks when they are mixed with emotions."


The Dutch five day race ends on Sunday.


 “We want to score. In the form we have now, we certainly can. It is the last race for me and that brings a different kind of nerves with it because I feel that it’s going to be a little bit about me this time." 



Ten years ago, in 2007, Tjallingii made a name for himself with his victory in the Tour of Belgium. In 2011, he placed on the podium in Paris-Roubaix and in 2013, won a stage in the World Ports Classic.


"Actually, all my wins are highlights, but winning the Tour of Belgium was fantastic. I essentially gave everyone my business card that day. My third place in Paris-Roubaix stands out for me. That was the most beautiful experience given my qualities.



"I get goose bumps again when I think about my last grand tour, this year’s Giro d’Italia. It was just amazing. I wanted to show the world who is Maarten Tjallingii one more time, and I did so with the blue mountains jersey in my hometown of Arnhem.”


He escaped in the first two stages and picked up mountain points to earn the jersey before the race returned to Italy.


“I really worked hard on this over the winter. I do that every year, but this year, it went better than I could’ve imagined.”


The Giro was an emotional rollercoaster with team-mate Steven Kruijswijk wearing the pink jersey and looking ready to win the race overall until he crashed into a snow bank with two days left.


“That was a big low point,” Tjallingii said. “I was so personally involved with the team process and I saw Steven improve quickly. The whole team was devastated, but those emotions come along with sport. I'm glad we could share our emotions with each other and with Steven. Although we shared those lows with Steven, we enjoyed the highs. We helped him to the top, which was a nice interaction."


Tjallingii will miss the team process that he learned in 11 years racing on the road.


"I started as an individual on the mountain bike, but then I found out that I could not get everything out of my career. When I’m able to contribute my bit to the result of the team, I’m even more satisfied.”



The sport’s dangers will not be missed. Tjallingii broke his hip in the 2012 Tour de France and pulled out in the first week.


“Though those crashes brought me a lot. The adrenalin rush when you come close but don’t fall is amazing,” he said with a laugh. "I won’t miss racing 65 kilometres an hour on twisty and bumpy roads.


“Those crashes forced me to come back stronger. Breaking my hip made me look at things differently. If I have a job, I want to do it 100 per cent, but once it’s done, don’t push over the limit to finish in the group. Do your work 100 per cent and then roll safely to the finish.”



He wants to share these experiences and to coach after he retires on Sunday.


“People want to reinvent the wheel on their own, but if you learn from another, you get there much faster. You do not have to reinvent the wheel in order to use the wheel. The wheel is already there.


"I'm going to keep busy with success-guidance, which can mental training for athletes or for people in business. I have half a year to decide how I want to work starting in January. Whether it’s within the cycling world or another business, I don’t know yet and it doesn’t matter. I won’t exclude returning to the cycling world. I have a great opportunity to give my expertise to other athletes."



He must complete the Ster ZLM Toer first. The team also fields sprinter Dylan Groenewegen. Like German sprinter André Greipel last year, Groenewegen could win the overall classification.


“I'm very going to enjoy this Ster ZLM Toer. With Dylan Groenewegen in a winning mood, it’s even more fun. It is difficult [for Groenewegen to win the overall], but he is in good shape and he should be able to handle the Ardennes stage. Dylan has surprised us this year, so maybe it will happen another time. It is a challenge, but we are hopeful.”



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