May 30, 2024

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Merryn Zeman on Bad Luck and Goodbyes: “An emotional conversation between me and Foote”

Merryn Zeman on Bad Luck and Goodbyes: “An emotional conversation between me and Foote”

If 2023 is too good to be true, 2024 is gradually taking on the allure of a nightmare. Visma-Lease a Bike stays in the corner where the hits land. Merryn Zeman and Richard Plug, the team's godfathers, talk about their fallen leaders, saying goodbye and building a secure future.

It should have been a week of truth for Visma-Lease a Bike. There has been a lot of focus this year on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but everyone knows what happened to the leader (and almost every Visma partner).

Furthermore, the other piece of art, Jonas Vingegaard, is also in ruins.

“His wife and daughter are now with him in the Basque Country,” sporting director Meren Zeman shares an update. “I hope he can go home soon to recover.”

According to Zeman, it is still too early for expectations, especially regarding the tour. The Dutch engineer of the first team made contact today with another unlucky player, Wout van Aart.

“I told him I was amazed at how quickly such a great athlete recovered compared to an ordinary human. His wound looked much better and he had more energy.”

“We also have to wait and see every day for him. We have to see how everything develops and how long he will be out. The Giro? We will postpone that. We definitely need another week to evaluate it properly.”

Fortunately, I was able to tell Wout privately my goodbyes. It was emotional for both of us.

Merin Zeman

Van Aert and Zeman understand each other blindly, but the cooperation will end after this season. “Fortunately, I was able to tell him in private,” the Dutchman says of his departure to AZ Football Club.

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“It leaked earlier than expected and it's been emotional for both of us. I owe a lot to Woot. He's an amazing athlete and an even more beautiful person. We've been through so much together.”

“It meant a lot to me, but he also understood why I was doing it. It just gradually took more effort and I was looking for a new challenge.”

This is what Zeman finds in football. He added: “Fut is not a big football fan, but I invite him when we play against a Belgian team in the Europa League.”

SafeR must leave

Between medical updates and future plans, Visma-Lease a Bike is of course also concerned about numerous falls and discussing safety in cycling.

“There is sadness, but there is also a kind of anger,” CEO Richard Plug sums up his feelings about the numerous incidents. “The organization is ready with SafeR, but it is not yet successful.”

“It could not have prevented yesterday's fall, but it is the beginning of a solution by looking at the route and the behavior of everyone – riders, teams, organizers and the UCI – with an independent body.”

“We must implement these recommendations as quickly as possible. It has now become too political. You have to stand up for people and also think about the business. This is hurting our sport.”

“I don't want to point fingers at anyone, but I'm angry that we haven't worked on it yet. I feel a responsibility to all the riders.”

Regarding issues like protective clothing, Plug suggests that “people who know about it should judge it.” “You have to think outside the box.”

Installing a turn as ASO has done is something the CEO would welcome. “It's very brave that in 100 years they are thinking about an icon of racing.”

“They deserve all the credit for that. Is this the right solution? I don't know. Should you drop her? I won't do that either.”

“I would like to pay tribute. And if you're wondering if it's a joke, have a conversation and make it better,” the Dutchman gave another hint to Mathieu van der Poel.

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