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Almost four years after he won the 2011 Tour of Flanders, 34 year old Nick Nuyens admitted on Tuesday that his search for a new team for 2015 had been fruitless and that he would retire from professional cycling.
Nuyens was once seen as one of Belgium’s top riders, taking wins such as the 2004 Paris-Brussels, the 2005 Omloop Het Volk, the 2006 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and the Grand Prix de Wallonie in 2004, 2005 and 2009.
He also shone in stage races, ending up as the overall victor in the Ster Elektrotoer in 2004, the Tour of Britain in 2005 and the 2007 Étoile de Bessèges.
However although he moved on to a new level in 2011 when he won both the Tour of Flanders and Dwars door Vlaanderen, he ran into difficulties due to injury. He fractured his hip in a crash in the 2012 Paris-Nice, falling during the opening time trial, and spent much of that year trying to get back on track.
Nuyens moved from the Saxo Bank team to Garmin-Sharp at the end of that season but struggled to return to his previous form. His best result in 2013 was ninth on a stage of the Eneco Tour while his 2014 season was complicated by a heart rhythm arrhythmia. He underwent surgery on June 10 of last year to try to correct this.
As Nuyens explained in a press conference held on Tuesday, he wanted to keep going but was unable to find a satisfactory deal after his two year period with Garmin-Sharp came to an end.
“I was still keen to remain as a rider as I didn’t want to leave in this way,” he said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. That it has not been possible, which is unfortunate.”
He said that he spoke to many teams, four in particular, but was unable to reach a satisfactory financial agreement. He said that he was not willing to ‘take off his pants’ to continue.
“On one hand, I can depend on a lot of experience, but then I realized that I did not get any results over the past two years. The longer it took, the clearer it became that to stop cycling was the best option.
“I never fully recovered from my hip fracture,” he admitted.
Nuyens said that while stopping was difficult, that he had some consolation of having what he termed a brilliant career. “It was much more beautiful than I had ever dared hope for,” he said, adding that he had never used doping.
“I think it is very important that I can look at myself straight in the mirror.”
The Belgian admitted that it would be difficult to adjust, particularly when his preferred spring races come around again, but that he would simply have to get used to his new situation. He said that he had something else to focus on.
“I now want to especially enjoy the extra time I will get with my family, my wife and my kids.”
Nuyens has a degree in communications and said during his career that he was interested in journalism. His future plans are yet to be confirmed but he can draw upon that qualification plus his experience as a top Classics rider if he chooses to work in cycling broadcasting or print media.