Monday, December 6, 2021
HomeInterviewsGorik Gardeyn - "I feel I am coming from the dark back...

Gorik Gardeyn – “I feel I am coming from the dark back into the light”

-

Gorik Gardeyn
Gorik Gardeyn.

Belgian professional Gorik Gardeyn’s name has been a familiar one in the European peloton for over a decade – but for season 2012 he’ll be signing on for events on the other side of the globe, as well as the ‘old continent.’

The 31 year-old has just signed for Chinese Pro Continental team Champion System, whose programme will encompass races on the UCI Asian Tour, not just the European.

Gardeyn first hit the headlines as an amateur, winning the Championship of Flanders and U23 Paris-Tours in 1999. The following season saw him win the U23 Het Volk and ride stagiaire for Lotto at the season’s end.

They were impressed and for season 2001 he was a ‘Lotto man’ and would remain with the team for four seasons. His debut year went well with a win in Dentergem and a stage in the Tour of Denmark.

In 2002 his best results were second in the GP Rudy Dhaenens and third in the season-ending Putte-Kapellen race.

The following season was unremarkable but in 2004 he started and finished the Giro and was second in the tough Omloop het van Waasland.

For 2005 he pulled on a new jersey – that of the Mr. Bookmaker team; the change of air agreed with him and wins came in the Classic Haribo and Omloop het van Waasland.

Mr. Bookmaker became Unibet for 2006 and Putte-Kapellen fell to him.

In 2007 Unibet fell afoul of the political struggle between ASO and the UCI – but despite this, Gardeyn won in Dentergem and a Tour of Belgium stage.

He also enjoyed numerous high profile top ten placings in races like Het Volk and the Belgian Elite Road race Championship.

Lotto welcomed him back in 2008 and sixth place in Dwars Door was the hi-lite.

Season 2009 was compromised by a bad crash in the Eneco Tour and for 2010 he found at new home at Vacansoleil.

A second place in the Heiste Pijl in his first year – and a similar placing in Kortrijk this year were the peaks of his time with the Dutch team.

Gardeyn spoke to us a few days after Christmas, with the ink not long dry on his new contract.

Congratulations on the contract, Gorik – how did the deal come about?

“I have friend who is also a friend of Ed Beamon, who is sport director with Champion Systems, he put me in touch.

“We had a good conversation about cycling and about the team and I decided to sign – it’s a challenge which I’m looking forward to.

“The contract is for one year, but contracts of any kind aren’t easy to get, this year.”

Do you still have friends with no ride for 2012?

“Yes, this winter you’ve certainly needed patience if you’re looking for a contract – but it’s getting to be too late, most of the places have gone.”

Did you get as much notice as you would have liked that you weren’t being retained?

“Maybe not as much as I would have liked; I did my thing for Vacansoleil and I’m sad that I couldn’t stay.

“I’m very close to Stijn Devolder but he hasn’t had the best of seasons and couldn’t really use his influence for me stay.

“Even although this year wasn’t the best for him his mental and physical condition is good and I think we’ll see him back to his best in 2012.”

Gorik Gardeyn
Champion System’s aim is to get the company known more in the US and the UK.

Do you know much about Champion System?

“They make race clothes for cycling, triathlon, running and moto-cross; they’re a very big concern.

“The aim of the team is get the name better known in Europe and the US.”

And you’ll be racing in Asia?

“Yes, I’m excited about that – it’ll be new to me, even although I’ve ridden the Tour Down Under twice and the Tour of Qatar three times.

“The team presentation will be in Beijing on the 6th of next month and then we go to visit the Champion System factory in Hong Kong.”

Is your programme decided, yet?

“Not yet, we’re going to sit down and agree that; we have a lot of applications out to races where we’ll have to rely on the wild card – but we’ve received a lot of invitations, too.

“At the training camp we’re going to agree programmes which are best for the individual riders and the team.”

Where is your first camp?

“Hainan Island off China, we have a 14 day camp there, next month – usually I’d be in Spain for early season training so it’s something different.”

Will yours be a mentoring role?

“Yes, there are a lot of young riders, ambitious guys – part of my job is to guide and teach them but without putting them under too much pressure; share my experience.

“Most of the guys are new to me but I know guys like Will Clark, Aaron Kemp and Jaan Kirsipuu.”

Gorik Gardeyn
Gorik enjoyed two spells with the Lotto squad.

Do you have a coach?

“Yes, but I also understand my body and train on ‘feel’ – you have to strike the correct balance between fatigue and effort.

“I use Powertap and heart monitor but I also understand the feelings in my legs and heart.

“Today’s training is a typical session for me, I did four-and-a-half hours with Stijn Devolder, Leif Hoste and Niko Eeckhout – it was very windy but we averaged 32/33 kph.

“Niko always wants to go hard – but I think that once per week hard is enough at this time of year.”

Did you take a day off training on Xmas day?

“Yes, my sister and her children came to our house and we had a great family meal. But I did an extra hour the next day – the food was too good and there was too much of it!

Next season will be your 12th in the pro peloton – what are the biggest changes you’ve seen?

Gorik Gardeyn
Gorik had a great season with Unibet.

“The Pro Tour has made a big difference, the participation in races in so much more international these days and it’s good that guys get a chance to race in their own countries – like the Australians in the Tour Down Under.

“And it’s good we’re looking at opportunities in places like China a Russia – but it’s important to remember that the history of the sport is in Europe.

“The race radios mean races are much more calculated these days, often the GC from the first day is the GC at the end – it’s much more controlled.”

You were with Unibet – that wasn’t a well handled situation.

“No, in football it was OK for them to have jerseys which advertise bookmaking – but not in cycling?

“I had one of my best seasons there; it was a great pity that the team couldn’t continue.

“That’s the thing with cycling, it’s not just about riding the bike; it’s the stuff around it – lobbying, politics …”

You seem to have ‘favourite’ races – Putte-Kapellen, for example?

“Some races I have good memories of and I perform well in them, and others fit well with my schedule – it’s sometimes difficult to get the ideal schedule but we’ll discuss mine at the training camp.

“But you also need a change – you can’t just keep ordering the same dish off the menu!”

What’s still ‘to do’ for you, in cycling?

“I’m just very thankful that I have another chance to race – it feels good to be with this team and I’m looking forward to my future with it.

“I’m still ambitious, motivated and healthy – in fact, my head is probably better now than it was a few years ago.

“I feel that this season I am coming from the dark back into the light.”

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Stephen Hall’s ‘Three Rules of Racing in Belgium’

did the last day of the Berlin Six Day, this year and one of the riders I was looking after was Australian Stephen Hall, son of former British Madison Champion, Murray Hall. It transpires Stephen is no mean wordsmith; we thought you might like to read his "Rules for Racing in Belgium" - whilst they're from an Aussie perspective so much of it is rock solid advice irrespective of your nationality, based on experience.

Our Time in Belgium, by Norman Gower

One of VeloVeritas’ functions it seems is unlocking the memories of those stalwarts – like our own mentor and soothsayer, Viktor and indeed, our editor Martin - who beat a path in the 70’s and 80’s to the legendary Mrs. Deene’s boarding house in Gent (and later in Zomergem) to show those Belgies how it should be done. The latest epistle which came our way was from Norman Gower.

The Tour of Flanders 2008 – Day 1

The Tour of Flanders 2008. When I was young (and dinosaurs roamed the earth) I read and re-read Tom Simpson's autobiography, 'Cycling is my Life.' The races that he won seemed so tough and so glamorous; I idolised him - still do. But it wasn't until I actually saw The Worlds, Milan - San Remo and the Tour of Lombardy in the flesh, that I realised how good the man actually was. I'm reminded again today, when I look at the parcours of 'The Ronde' what a bike rider he really was.

Christopher Macic – “I have to give it 100% this year”

A few years ago, Vik and I were hanging over the barriers at a Friday night kermis near Gent; ex-pro Tony Bracke was Hoovering up the primes but one of the Kingsnorth Wheelers guys was catching our eye, Christopher Macic.

James Shaw – Winner of the Junior Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2014

What have Geraint Thomas, Adam Blythe and new sprint star – he was only narrowly beaten by Boonen at Kuurne – Moreno Hofland all got in common? There’s a clue above in the place name: they’ve all won the junior Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. And adding to that illustrious list is another Englishman; 17 year-old James Shaw from Heanor in Derbyshire, he rides for HARIBO Beacon Cycling Team in the UK and took the honours with a perfectly timed move in the finale of one of the world’s premier junior races.

Belgian Opening Weekend Ramblings

It's the 'Belgian Opening Weekend'; Het Volk used to be a cult race, the teams would line up in the street just up from the Kuipke velodrome. The first team to set up would be the late Frans Assez’s Flanders squad — no flash bus or trucks, just a ‘Luton’ style van...

At Random

Giro d’Italia 2012 – Stage 3: Horsens 190km. It’s Not All Ice Cream & Fairies

My club mate Davie Gardiner, in the Kirkcaldy and District CC, back in 1971 used to say that when he meant things were going swimmingly well; 'it was aw ice cream an' fairies !' Cav had one of those days, yesterday. Not so, today for the Giro d'Italia 2012 - Stage 3 into Horsens.

FSA K-Force WE makes history at the Vuelta a España

Full Speed Ahead, the fourth electronic road groupset producer in the world, has just debuted its electronic wireless FSA K-Force WE groupset in a three-week Grand Tour with a historical triumph on Stage 5 of La Vuelta a España.

One to Watch: Daniel Teklehaimanot

Hidden away in North East Africa - 'The Horn' - bordering Ethiopia and Sudan is a little known country called Eritrea, officially 'The State of Eritrea.' At 118,000 square kilometres it's around half the size of the United Kingdom; with a population similar to that of Scotland at an estimated five million. It's better known for producing athletes of the running variety, but one ambitious, young sportsman is breaking the trend; Daniel Teklehaimanot.

Steele Bishop – Four Times World Masters Champion

A year or two ago I was fortunate enough to interview Steele Bishop, World Professional Pursuit Champion in 1983; and then, earlier this year I reviewed his autobiography, 'Wheels of Steele'. When I saw he was competing at Manchester in the 2019 Veteran’s World Track Championships I resolved to keep an eye out; I knew he wouldn’t be there to make up the numbers.

Back to Bunchies (Preview: TDF 2012 Stage 13)

Back to Bunchies - we’ve had a full week since the mad dog sprinters have had a chance to shine, and I would be astonished if we had to wait another day to see them all go head to head for the win.

Daniel Kain – Joining Spokes Race Team for 2020

A young man we’ve been meaning to speak to for a while, ‘but never got round to it’ is Aberdonian, Daniel Kain. He can do it all - time test, ride the boards, circuit and road race.