At the end of 2020 Preben Van Hecke (39) said goodbye to the cycling world. For seventeen years he had led the pack with considerable success. In his final years Van Hecke was the loyal road captain of Topsport Vlaanderen. The native of Ardooie now wants to continue that line. He will become head sports director of the Minerva Cycling Team.
It was written somewhere in the stars that Preben Van Hecke would remain active in cycling. The Minerva Cycling Team offers him that opportunity. "Minerva is a bicycle manufacturer, which mainly focuses on electric bicycles. Filip Carpentier is the owner and he will be the sole sponsor of the team. They contacted me to become sports director. I didn't have to think long. This will be a great project.
Although he could be of service to many as a sports director, Van Hecke still needs to take a course. "I don't make a point of it. Of course I have a lot of experience, but as a sports director you do have a responsibility. I think about safety, for example. I think it is only normal that I have to attend the course at the end of November to become a sports director. I think it will be interesting and I can learn a lot.
TEN PROMISING RIDERS, SIX ELITE RIDERS WITHOUT A CONTRACT
Van Hecke was able to put together his own team for next year. Minerva can fill a certain gap. "We are mainly aiming at guys who are worthy of becoming professionals, but did not get the chance with their team and are in danger of missing out. Riders like Gil D'Heygere or Matthew Van Schoor really have what it takes. I really believe in their qualities. Yet they could not yet get a professional contract. We offer them the chance to mature for a year with us."
"It concerns 10 espoirs (-U23) and six elites without a contract. We start as a continental team. That means we can ride everything up to and including the 1.1 races," Van Hecke points out. "The U23s will ride the Road Series. They should really be able to play an important role there. The elites have to lead the team in the professional races. I am thinking of organisations like the Gooikse Pijl, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne or the Bingoal Cup."