It’s good to know each other in the club. That’s why I’d like to briefly introduce myself. Next year I will wear the colors of BEAT Cycling Club, with the goal of becoming part of the professional peloton in 2018. Now I will explain how I become a member of BEAT Cycling Club.
I am Piotr, 22 years old. I was born in Gouda (famous for the cheese) and I live in Bergambacht. The green region where I live is a perfect spot for bike riding, which is why I already started cycling when I was 7 years old. I started riding mountain bikes with my father, and one year later I took up road biking to join the local cycling club near Gouda (GRTC Excelsior).
At the beginning of my “cycling career” I already won many races and became Dutch champion in multiple disciplines. At the age of 14 I got scouted by a Belgian development team and left my local club to develop further in Belgium. It was always my goal to go to Belgium at some point during my career, because Belgium has a lot of the hard races and passion for cycling. From that age until the junior level, I made a lot of progress. I won two more championship titles and regularly achieved victories in international classic races and general classifications. Without noticing, I moved from one development pyramid to another. The pro teams often changed sponsors, so development teams did the same. I thought it was just how things worked.
During my final season as a junior, I met Geert Broekhuizen at the Omega Pharma–Quick-Step talent training camp. Geert was communication and marketing manager for the team. I also started a bachelor’s program studying sports marketing that year, so I was really interested in having a look behind the scenes. That’s why I joined the development team EFC–Omega Pharma–Quick-Step in my first year as a U23 rider. I made some significant progress during that year, just not enough to step up to the pro team. The combination of studying and sport became harder, so I chose to go back to my own country to ride for Rabobank Development Team.
The years at Rabobank had some ups and downs. I succeeded in placing third at the Dutch championships and winning a stage and the green jersey at the Vuelta a Valencia. I also knew some misfortunes. I struggled with overtraining during the year my girlfriend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. One year later, I had issues with a nerve compression that had multiplier effects on my left leg.
When it became clear that the Rabo development team would stop at the end of 2016, I switched to a Continental team, Team 3M. I hoped to grow with the team, which had the ambition to become a Pro Continental team. But 3M also stopped at the end of 2016. So I had no team anymore, and the quest for a new team started again.
The good news was that I successfully finished my studies that same year, thanks to my thesis about fan engagement in cycling, for which I did research commissioned by the Dutch cycling federation. My academic performance and thesis were recognized with the Emmens Award, an award given annually by the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences for the best student of his or her class.
As I finished my studies, I came in closer contact with Geert. Geert was one of the experts I interviewed during my research. He explained a little bit more about the BEAT concept and invited me to provide some input into the plans.
In the meantime, my quest for a new Continental team continued. Many teams opted for only U23 riders for the next season; other teams were not sure about their future. I wasn’t able to choose a team that I could join with one hundred percent trust and ambition because of the uncertainty among the Continental teams.
I was very pleased when BEAT came to me with the idea of following me for one year and helping me with my development. I see a future for both my sports career and socially, because of the club structure, which is revolutionary in the sport of cycling. It would be a dream to be part of the professional BEAT team during 2018 and to make my debut at the spring classics.
For the next year, you can follow me and my career via the #RoadToBEAT. During all the individual races at the elite level I will be representing BEAT. Soon I hope to give you some insights into my race program for next season. You can follow all my training activities via the BEAT Strava account and my personal account. For the fans who can’t wait any longer, I can reveal that I will wear the BEAT colors during the European beach race championships at Scheveningen (The Hague) on December 18 and Egmond-Pier-Egmond on January 7.
Just let me know if you have any questions via firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see you at one of our BEAT events.