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A Story About The Rise of


It's the 23rd of December 2014, the start of a new season dawns. Today was the final day for team confirmation before the 2015 ProTrack Season began. I had attempted to get into the new Lotto.NL team for following season, and today was the day I'd find out.

There were 5 candidates, but only 1 slot in the team. We were all tested through the most difficult of tasks to see who the strongest one was. I said to myself that I was the worst there in the process, and the results showed that too. My odds coming into the race were low, as were my expectations.

All the other candidates stood backstage below the Velodrome Amsterdam in our crisp, new Lotto kits. The Dutch press were waiting in the stands, but oddly enough, we were all told to race one lap individually, you know waving and stuff, saying: "Yes, this is me!", but my lap was a little more anxious than the others. I stayed low at the banking, compared to the others who went round the top high-fiving the fans and such. The announcer said that I was the 'dark horse', yeah right. However after we did our little stint we all re-gathered together in the centre of the velodrome and waited for the announcement.

My family didn't even turn up, which was kinda demoralising for me, but I just took some deep breaths as the announcer got to the point.
"It's time for the announcement!" he said, as I crinckled up the sleeve of my jersey. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our new Lotto.NL rider..." I heaved a sip of water down me; I'd never been this nervous in my life. "...LARS BAANDERS" I fell to my knees and buried my head in my hands, as I prepared to walk out in front of the Cycling Press. The cameras were flashing, the crown were on their feet, but most of all, I was a Professional racer...

To be continued...

Edited by EwanWilson on 24-12-2014 09:06
The Morning After

I woke up this morning feeling like shit. I had a headache, I felt sick, and my muscles were stiff. I was still in my now beer-stained Lotto.NL jersey, that was now stuck to my skin due to all the sweat I had produced. Suprisingly, I was still in my apartment on the Hague's seaside outskirt, Schveningen. But, I had absolute determination to get up and train to make myself the best I could for the upcoming ProTrack Season.

I rolled out of bed and stood by the window overlooking the North Sea, and I leaned on my desk with my right elbow and just stood there, thinking about what's to come. I thought that I couldn't go out on Christmas Eve, and that it was also 3 degrees outside, and a brisk headwind off the sea too. As a partner of the Tacx Cycling Partnership Program (TCPP), I had a couple rollers to use when the weather was like thus. So, I took out the new black and yellow Bianchi bikes that were given to us at the start of the Lotto.NL candidate process, and I placed it on the rollers. Riding on rollers is like riding on ice, its all balance related, and to be honest my balance is pretty shit (I don't know how I became a professional cyclist), but I was determined to do some training today.

Being a track racer you should normally be good at riding on rollers, but today not so much. I couldn't do it. Every time I'd do a little burst of energy I'd come up and almost flop over. My current health state didn't help either, as I was about the find out. I felt hot, and my head was spinning out of control, I was feeling incredibly sick, I was panting frantically. I came off the bike and sat on the top tube, but then I collapsed.

Was I ready for the adventure I was about to embark on? I don't know.
Could I achieve what I wanted? I don't know, but I'd sure give it a go...


The Meeting

After having a a day to recuperate after my little incident earlier, I was told to go to the new Lotto.NL Team HQ in Alkmaar, who would also host the last round of the Nederland-Belgie Trofee later in March. I expected it to be a meeting about getting free groceries from Lotto, but then I realised that I had to meet my new team and staff, and also set my goals for the upcoming season.

I had arrived there on a train, and I had brought my bike along to. On top of that I was wearing my brand new Lotto hoodie and tracksuit bottoms, so I had all the gear for whatever they were going to assign me with. But when I arrived at the Sportpaleis Velodrome, I was told to head up to the offices, and to leave my bike outside on a bike rack. I then hopped up the stairs and entered the 'Lotto.NL Boardroom' which was basically a big white room with lots of pictures of Lotto.NL riders, and inside sat my new team and training staff. I had already met the head coach, Nicki Crever on the candidate process, but the others I had no clue, apart from one. Nicki pointed to a tall middle-aged man who looked freakishly like Hendrick Zandberg, the winner of the '92 and '94 ProTrack Rankings and the holder of the Hour Record. He said "Hi" so I broke down, and said I have admired him since I was an aspiring junior cyclist. Surprisingly, he seemed pretty cool about it, but I think he knew that I was going to get used to being around him because he was my own personal coach.

The was another man was going to be my psychologist, Daan Polterschreijf, who seemed like a young friendly guy, who was kinda the same age as me too. He shook my hand and said "Hoi". I replied timidly and was greeted by another man, this time a tall Scandinavian looking mechanic. "Lars, this is Rasmus Storlinng, your mechanic here at Lotto", I just nodded at him, but he seemed to get the point. I was also greeted by another 'trainer' but he seemed just like a secondary guy if Hendrick isn't there. He was called Casper Polet, and he came across as anxious and possibly intoxicated.

The last person I met though was the big guy, the team owner: Niels Hoogvliet. He was the boss of the Lotto.NL Team, and had all the decision-making power in team. I read in the ProTrack magazine that he was stern, but fair with his decisions, which included the selection of me., and the abolition of the rider before me: Dirk Van der Zwet. I shook his hand and said hello and what an honour it was to be on the Lotto.NL team.

[center]Half of us sat on one side, and the other half sat on the other, but Niels told me to sit at the head of the table. We talked through what to will happen in the season. Dann showed us a couple graphs and shit, and then we went through the important part, planning the races for the upcoming season.

They said they'd chance it and take me to the United Cup in Barcelona, and then really aim for the Nederland-Belgie Trofee (NED-BE Trofee), in Ghent and mainly the whole series. On top of that I was told that I'd go to the European Track Series meets in Glasgow, Odense & Vienna aswell, to test the water out at a classic event with a huge atmosphere. Niels said that I had to show the Lotto.NL colours in the United Cup because Lotto (Dutch supermarket) were paying a lot of money to send Lars to the races and to get their name on his jersey. And to round off the season I'd race at the Velodrom in Berlin at the coveted World Championships, as I might get a chance in the Points Race after what happened last year with Byev on Telenor. However it was decided that I should skip the Luxembourg Cup because it was tire me too much!

So, I walked out the conference feeling at ease with my new season, but I still has=d a bit more anxiety about what riding in huge packed velodrome with the best riders in the world would be like. Anyway, I headed back home to Schveningen with a little less stress of my shoulders! Anyway, I had to wait 'till tomorrow to see the first edition of the new ProTrack magazine come out, and I was informed that I'd be in it.

Lotto.NL Staff
Team Owner: Niels Hoogvliet
Head Director Sportif: Nicki Crever
Personal Coach: Hendrick Zandberg
Secondary Trainer: Casper Polet
Psychologist: Daan Polterschreijf
Mechanic: Rasmus Storlinng


Edited by EwanWilson on 25-12-2014 14:15
Pretty dramatic stuff here!
I like that you are thinking of his home life aswell!
Rasmus Skellig!!!
The Morning Before

I flew over from Amsterdam yesterday to Barcelona, the city that I'd ride my first professional track race. It was at the United Cup, and I was told that I'd race the endurance races only when I was here, mainly aiming for the Points Race. Hendrik came with me, as did the DS Niki Crever. The session starts in 30 minutes but I'm currently on my way to the velodrome, (yes, I'm writing this hile I'm in the team car on the way to the velodrome). This seemed kinda weird because I'd never actually raced with any of the people I'm about to, apart from the Dutch iones who I raced against in the Dutch championships of course. It seemed pretty daunting, but I was sure that I'd meet a couple of people my age and we'd get on or something. I heard that there was a new 18 year-old Dutchman on the PCM.Daily team, that might be someone to talk to outside my team. That is a downside of being on a team with only one rider: you don't have anyone to talk to, which is kinda boring too. I don't kn ow why, nut the most fun thing I found about this whole experience was packing my bag because there was just a shit ton of kits and stuff with my name ion it which was really cool, which I fond a bit unusual. However, this was kinda brief but we're nearly at the velodrome and I've got to prep up for my race later, but I'll keep you posted on what happened there as well after it. Be sure to keep up with the WCU coverage during it as well, so yeah, wish me luck!


De Trofee

Well, I had a pretty mediocre United Cup start in Barcelona after suffering from a mechanical in the Elimination Race, I practically came last in the Scratch race (I did score a point though Wink ) and failing to qualify for the Keirin Final, why did they have to change the rules?! Well, tonight is the Nederland-Belgie Trofee, and this is the biggest chance I have of scoring a few points and possibly winning a race! This race is a long one and goes into the night but I have co-ordinated my sleep cycle to be prepared for the event.

I know the Ghent velodrome has an incredible atmosphere and I really want to experience it first hand. In the last meet I met up with Stefan Heillden, who seemed like a nice guy. He just crashed in the Scratch and I nearly ran over his head which was pretty scary. However for tonight I needed a Madison partner if I wanted some guaranteed points, which was vital in my attempt at gaining a top 5 place in the NED-BE Trofee. I don't know who to ask, but I heard that you can just sign up on the night, and that race is the last so I think I might have to go mooching around for a bit, going into different camps. Rather conveniently our camp is right next to ZUNO Bank's and there is an 18 year-old there who is on his own, so he is an option, I just need to see how good he is on the boards earlier in the night. Well, I will see you tomorrow, and will tell you how we did in the meet!

PS: I will definitely do it this time not just procrastinate like last time Pfft


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