41 year old ‘Rambo’ Eeckhout considering one more season
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

41 year old ‘Rambo’ Eeckhout considering one more season

by Shane Stokes at 10:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Schaal Sels win increases prospect that former Belgian champion could continue

Niko EeckhoutHaving pulled off an impressive 25 kilometre solo move and scooping victory by twelve seconds in Sunday’s 1.1-ranked Schaal Sels in Belgium, Niko Eeckhout is considering delaying retirement for another season.

The Belgian is currently competing in his 21st pro season, having stepped up to the paid ranks back in 1992.He will be 42 this December but, according to his An Post Grant Thornton Sean Kelly team manager Kurt Bogaerts, his motivation is still there and the veteran could keep going.

“He is really thinking more and more about doing another year, but it is not confirmed yet,” he told VeloNation. “He is definitely considering it, particularly after this win. It makes it all the more stronger in his head to continue for another year.”

Nicknamed Rambo because of his strength and blocky build, Eeckhout is older than riders such as Jens Voigt, Chris Horner (both 40) and the just-retired 39 year old George Hincapie.

He is one of the most experienced riders in the bunch and six years ago won the Belgian road race championships plus the UCI’s Europe Tour rankings. He’s taken a number of important wins during his career, including the Étoile de Bessèges, Grand Prix d'Isbergues, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Memorial Rik Van Steenbergenand and Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, plus stages in the Tour of Denmark and Ster Elektrotoer.

His victory on Sunday in the Schaal Sels race came after he, Mark McNally, Roy Jans and Kenneth Van Bilsen were involved in a ten man break early on. With 25 kilometres to go Eeckhout set out alone, built a lead and hung on to finish twelve seconds clear.

“It was a great result for us. Not only was it a superb performance by Niko to claim the victory but it was a tremendous team performance and that’s what pleases me the most,” said Bogaerts in a team statement.

“Niko has shown his class time and time again. He is an example to all the younger riders in terms of his professionalism, his attitude and his dedication to the sport. So I’m delighted for him.”

He added that he believed the team was mentally and physically in very good shape. “It bodes well for the next few weeks with the Tour of Britain and the World Championships around the corner,” he said.

The team is yet to confirm its line-up for the former but with Eeckhout in such good shape and last year’s Britain stage winner Gediminas Bagdonas fresh from netting three stages plus the overall in the Baltic Chain Tour, both seem like logical choices for selection.


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