Rik van Slycke
Rik Van Slycke is a former Belgian pro, with career highlights such as a victory in Nokere Koerse (1989) and a top 10 finish in a stage of the Tour de France.
“I was 13 years a professional, from 1987 until 2000,” Van Slycke said. “It was always a dream as a rider to get on the team of Patrick Lefevere. “But I never managed to do that because I rode for other teams. You could see even then his style of working. He always wants to be the best and win. He always managed to bring big champions together to make them win and work together. In 2001 Patrick called me just to see if I could help him out, first as a VIP driver and then as a Sport Director at La Vuelta for the second car. Since then I’ve been on his team. In 2004 when the ProTour was coming we needed more Sport Directors. It then became a full-time job for me.”
According to Van Slycke, if you have a tram that works together for a long time, it means everyone has trust that others can do their job. “The new riders and staff that come in can have confidence knowing this,” Van Slycke said. “I think it’s important to see that if a team is solid, it will function well. This team has proven this, It’s like a guarantee for success. Any rider who comes in here can be a winner.”
Rik also believes that the group of sport directors are a well functioning group. “We feel very well what we can do for each other. I was never a big champion on the road, but I have a good feeling of how I can be a helper for the team. If everyone does their job, supports each other, and understands the problems each can have, it is easier. We’re all former riders, but with our experience we can convince them to do better. Tom Steels won a lot of racers, so he can tell riders how to win. In that part, we all have our specific things we can bring to the riders. We have a complete team on every level.”
The teamwork is part of the entire sport, according to Rik. “The guys who control the race, they do it for our leaders. Without them it would be much more difficult to win as many races as we do. For them, it is big satisfaction that they played such a big part in the success of our leaders. This convinces them to do what it asked, which is what brings it all together. In cycling, staff and riders who know and enjoy their roles can succeed.”
Rik’s favorite races: Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix. “Guys like me, we are born in those regions and we did well in those races. It’s natural to consider them the favorites.”