“I don’t say goodbye to cycling, I just say see you next time.”
Mechanic Dominique Landuyt joined Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 2008. He always loved his job, which brought him to many beautiful places while working within the team he’s so proud of. La Vuelta is Dominique’s last stop with his beloved Wolfpack, before embarking on a new road in his journey.
“We don’t have eternal life. If you are healthy, you have to enjoy life moderately, as nobody is free from health problems. Since I’ve lost my father, four years ago, my philosophy about life has changed. You can always work, but if you reach a certain age and you have the opportunity to enjoy life a bit more, then you take that option. Not everyone is lucky to reach the age of 85. Now my mother lives in an elderly home, it’s sad to see her losing grip on life, but at the same time when I have time I try to go to her as much as possible.”
After the Vuelta my career in cycling stops. For sure it will be emotional.
“Everyone has to say goodbye to certain things at some point in life, and this is a choice I made. It would have been worse if the team was stopping. I say goodbye to my career with a good feeling, I always felt at home in this world. My brother and I practically grew up in cycling. My dad, who was a sports director in the crit races, always took us with him, starting from eight years old. We were sitting in the back of the race car next to the mechanic, nobody even noticed that as we were small. We breath cycling and I enjoyed every single bit of what I like to call a rollercoaster of emotions. I can’t really pick out a certain moment, as there are so many beautiful moments, but also hard ones. When you work in cycling, you love it and then you can do that little bit extra.”
The beauty of the job
“I’m also super thankful for all the places I saw because of my job. I travelled to parts of the world, for example Malaysia, I probably wouldn’t have seen it if weren’t for my job. I never really had difficulties with travelling or being away from home, one time I thought it was hard after my daughters were born. But eventually also that got a routine. My wife grew up in cycling as well, so that helps a lot. The different riders and staff members you work with, you have to deal with a lot of different personalities, but that’s the beauty of it. I also saw that cycling changed a lot compared to before, now every team has several doctors, ten mechanics and soigneurs. The budgets also improved of course.”
“I started in the team in 2008, but before that I had already worked as a mechanic. But here there was an open spot for the bus driver, because unfortunately the bus driver had passed away. I called Patrick and I could start immediately, of course first I had to get my driver’s license. After three years I got the chance to start as a mechanic again. It has been fantastic to work in this sport, but especially in this team. I worked in smaller teams as well, so I know the difference. We win a lot, and everyone is proud to work here, we really have the privilege that we have everything we need, from material to clothing.”
Stress in the race car
“I’ll for sure remember the moments in the race car, where you experience a lot of pressure. A cycling race is unpredictable, a crash or a puncture, a lot can happen. The first hour of the race you can sit in the car and have a laugh, but then when something happens or you come closer to the finish line, you feel more tension. But it’s healthy pressure. If you hear the word ‘chute’, you feel a lot of stress and hope that none of your guys are involved. You run with wheels, but then sometimes you need to change the bike but you don’t know which bike. You don’t want to experience a lot of those moments. When there’s a win, of course everyone is ecstatic. In the evening you have a drink together and you feel the day went well, that’s where the stress runs out of your body. You also feel a lot the riders’ appreciation, for example when they arrive at the hotel they will mostly always come to greet you.”
“Now another part of my life will start. I want to make more time for my family, ride my bike, help with the household and just enjoy life. I’ll still work on my bike, but I’ll miss the contact with my colleagues. I’ll for sure pass by sometimes at the service course to have a coffee. But you won’t find me every race along the course, I’ll still look at it and follow it but not constantly. I wish the team all the success for the next seasons. It would be amazing if it works out to win a Grand Tour. I hope everyone keeps on feeling well in the team and remains in good health, because that’s the most important thing. I don’t say goodbye to cycling, I just say see you next time.”
Photo credit: ©Wout Beel