Niels Albert has finished an eventful year. "I'm still in the process of accepting it completely," the 28-year-old former cyclocross rider said about his heart problems. As a team leader, Albert is now experiencing Wout van Aert's many great results. "An incredible guy," he says about his protege.
"2014 was quite a hectic year that we managed to finish with some nice wins for the team [Vastgoedservice, ed.]," Niels Albert said in the Radio 1 program Morning. "And in 2015, we also started well. Given the circumstances, I do not complain."
2014 was the year when Albert ended his career prematurely due to heart problems. "I am still in the process of acceptiong it completely.
"At one race, I don't think about it. At the next race, I am nonetheless facing it again. 'I could also have ridden here,' I say to myself. Sometimes I find it difficult but now I can talk about it."
The spartan life is now over. "On one hand, I miss it, it was no longer a lot of sacrifice," Niels Albert said. "On the other hand, I now enjoy life. I can drink a glass of wine and I do no longer have to skip the dessert.
"I celebrated Christmas but on New Year's Eve, I still went to bed at half past 12. At 8 o'clock, I had to get up for the cyclocross race in Baal. Otherwise I would have been half-sleeping. I want to do my new job as a team leader in a good way."
Niels Albert quickly started to work as a team leader of the Vastgoedservice team which has 20-year-old Wout van Aert in its ranks. "An incredible guy," Albert said.
"Together with his coach Marc Lamberts, I made a program. He makes sure that Wout is in good condition. I pass on my cyclocross experience and find the appropriate training courses. We form a good tandem."
In a week, van Aert will be at the start of the Belgian championships in Erpe-Mere as the top favourites. "Wout is a quiet boy. Now he is i Spain where he can calmly prepare for the championsuhips. That's good. In a championship race, everything starts from scratch but we are in the winning mood."
As a team leader Niels Albert is now a competitor of his former BKCP team boss Christophe Roodhooft. "In the beginning, it was annoying. Now we laugh again and we again shake hands. That's how I like it," Albert said. For 2015, he has a great and logical desire: "Good health."
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