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"I had a good approach but also knew it was all or nothing. During the test I saw the faces of the doctors and realized that it was not good. Then my world collapsed."

Photo: Paumer Kare Dhelie Thorstad


21.12.2016 @ 16:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Due to heart problems, 2016 was the last year of the career of Johan Vansummeren. In Sportweekend on Belgian TV channel Sporza, he told how he handles the blow and what life has to offer for him after retirement. "There have been a lot of tears until I had no more.”


In late June, Johan Vansummeren announced his retirement from cycling. It was hard to come to terms with the decision. "It took me several weeks to recover."


"Shortly after my retirement they wanted to honor me in Lommel, but I have to cancel it. I wanted a ride a bit with the fans, but I didn’t receive permission. And I am not a the kind of person who can just wave to the people.


"The worst was after my second heart surgery. Then I had an exercise test in Hasselt. I had a good approach but also knew it was all or nothing. During the test I saw the faces of the doctors and realized that it was not good. Then my world collapsed.


"I felt anger and sadness. Then I left a lot of tears until I didn’t have more. You know that your life as a pro is going to stop, but I have no peace with the way it happened. They took my bike. I understand that it was necessary.”


Vansummeren still curses that his father suggested to have his heart checked.


"Sometimes I think: if I had just postponed the test until after Roubaix, I could at least have done the spring.”


Vansummeren would have loved to do Roubaix again because he had his greatest triumph there in 2011. 


"I do not think I can complain about my career. There are riders who have achieved more than I have, but there are also some who have done less. I'm satisfied.


"I know what I've done before and especially what I haven’t done. I can look myself in the mirror.


Johan Vansummeren has still not said goodbye to the bike. 


"I'm riding two times a week with friends, with a heart rate monitor.


"I'm not afraid on the bike. I take a beta blocker in advance so my heart rate doesn’t increase too much.  But I still hate to be overtaken.”


Vansummeren still feels some melancholy when he thinks of his bike. 


"Cycling was my profession, but that was not how I felt. I still liked it and wanted to ride until I was 40.


"That's what I miss most: to work together with a group for one goal, the tension that builds up to the big races…


"And then to arrive on the market in Bruges or in Compiegne in the morning and feel: today it’s going to happen. Goosebumps…”


Vansummeren hopes that he can still remain in cycling as a team leasder. 


"I've always wanted that. Many riders begin to hate the life outside the home but not me. Cycling is my rock 'n' roll.


"I took a course in Switzerland to become a team leader. I paid out of my own pocket. I have written to all the teams but it's pretty quiet.


"But in cycling it can change quickly. Maybe I will be the right man in the right place.


"I do not think they will get an easy team leader in me. As a rider, I was always hard on myself and I would require the same of my riders.


"However, I don’t want to be a boss, I'd rather be friendly when dealing with the riders. But of course they have to perform at the end of the day.


"I have other options but I don’t want to tell it too much. I am still working on my computer."


Whether he will be a sports directorr or not, Vansummeren realizes that it will never be the same.


"Regardless of what I will ever do in life, it will never be the same again. I will never go at 60 km/h over the cobblestones in the Forest of Wallers. You will not find that kick.


"Therefor I dream about someday doing a race, maybe only as amateur. I would like it very much. But I do not think it will ever happen."



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