We went to visit Stan at his home in Ghent. It was an opportunity to ask him questions that are not often asked, to get to know the man behind the cyclist.
▪️ When and how did you start cycling?
At home, it was "soccer soccer soccer". And one summer, thanks to the father of a friend of mine, I don't know why, I tried cycling. I was 14 years old. I really liked it and they were super surprised that I wasn't completely dead after 80km. So they convinced me to join a club. My first year, I was not very good: I finished 83rd in my region. But the following year, I won 11 times and finished 1st. From then on, everything went on.
▪️ What do you find in cycling that motivates you?
Of course I like the rides, the training. But basically I think it's because I'm very competitive, and what I like about cycling is that you're on your own. You have to push yourself, you can't rely on anyone else. Every race you have to push yourself to the limit and that sounds weird but it's something I really like.
▪️ How did you join the AG2R CITROËN team?
They came to get me and I am very happy. I was injured quite badly the year before. It was just after the end of the season, a car hit me and I came out with a big knee injury. But they trusted me anyway, and I'm very grateful.
▪️ What's it like to be a professional cyclist?
To be rider pro, is to make a profession out of your passion. And that is an incredible opportunity. But it also comes with constraints. When you are rider pro, you are every day, all the time: when you eat, when you have a party with friends... there is no "on" and "off". You also have to accept being away from your home and friends. I'm away 200 days a year.
▪️ What are your big goals as a cyclist?
As a professional, victories of course. My dream race is Paris-Roubaix. I've always had a connection with that race, even before I won it as an U23. And I would like to race the Tour de France at least once. After that, outside of my career, I really want to do the Cape Epic or the Crocodile Trophy with a friend and go bike packing with my little brother.
▪️ And outside of cycling, what are your passions?
The most important thing is to spend time with my friends. I often invite them over for dinner, we play darts... we've also gotten into board games quite a bit since the lockdown! And also, I love beer. With a friend, we brew our own beer, we develop our own recipes and we may even plan to market it one day.