The 35-year-old Belgian, who this week is in the mix for a solid result in the BinckBank Tour general classification, talked of the reasons behind his decision to sign a new contract with the team.
I contacted Patrick last year about the opportunity to ride for the team, and we found an agreement, which we were both happy with. I was of course delighted to get this chance and that Patrick placed his confidence in me. I had a feeling already from the beginning this would work out well. This team has always been quite complete and aggressive, fighting for the win in every race. Actually, they have been really hard to beat when I was racing against them. They were always smart, racing like a real team, showing a great mentality, and that is why I was very keen on joining forces with them.
When you reach out to a team, like I did, you are never sure if it will work out, but fortunately it did, and I have been really happy to train and race with this team, and win with them of course. This year has been a fantastic experience and it's far from being over!
I only signed for one season, so my dream was to extend beyond 2017, and I knew after the great victories in De Ronde van Vlaanderen and Amstel Gold Race that it would be possible. I wanted to extend my contract for two more years and the team accepted that, so I am obviously very happy.
I am sure I can still win some big races and that I will get my chances with this team. It would be a dream come true to add to my palmares races like Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix with this team. That is also one of the reason why I wanted to sign for two more years, to build up and increase my chances.
There are a lot of young guys on the team as well, and one of the things I am looking forward to, is to pass on my experience. For me it is really nice to be part of the process of developing the younger riders. Not everyone gets the chance to have an experienced rider as road captain, so this is a role I am looking forward to playing before I stop my career.
I cannot underline how important the staff is on the team, they have incredible professionalism, dedication and hard-working attitude, which is something you rarely get to appreciate enough but it really makes the difference! They do an amazing job every day. Equipment-wise we also have the best of the best. It is really one of the biggest and best teams in the world, so I am very, very happy with everything!
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele