“There’s a rumour that’s going around the cycling world that I’ll be the new manager of Lotto Soudal,” said the 40-year-old, who retired on Sunday at Paris-Tours.
“I was contacted by the team a few months ago, even over a year ago about this role,” he continued. “I wanted to confirm that, with regards to the manager role, it won’t be me. I don’t feel ready. I feel honoured, though, that the team thought of me, but I’d rather leave another person to take it on.”
Last month, Lotto Soudal team boss John Lelangue chose to step down from his role after four years at the helm of the squad.
Lelangue’s decision came as the team faces the prospect of relegation from the WorldTour. Though this is still not mathematically certain, Lotto Soudal now appear too far adrift in the UCI points ranking, and are likely to be relegated along with Isreal-Premier Tech.
In his video, Gilbert outlined that the role of general manager is a mammoth undertaking that requires a wide range of experience.
“Even after 20 years in cycling, I might have the experience in this little world but it’s still complicated because being manager means being in charge of a lot of employees.
“It’s not just the men's team, but also the youth team and the women’s team,” Gilbert added. “We’re talking about around 100 employees.”
The Belgian, however, did not rule out the possibility of becoming a team boss in the future.
“It’s maybe a role that I’ll take later in life once I’ve got the necessary experience and I’ve had a bit of time to reflect,” he said. “I think first I need to find a goal in life, but maybe not a goal that’s so time-consuming and tiring.”
A former world champion, Gilbert called time on his professional career this weekend, finishing 27th in his final race, Paris-Tours. Over his 20-year career, the Belgian collected 80 wins, including victories in four out of the five Monuments.
Speaking about his new, retired life, Gilbert said: “For the moment it’s all very new, everything’s going well, but I need to also find a balance.”
“Professional athletes, especially cyclists, aren’t well prepared [for retirement],” he added. “It’s a shortcoming in our sport that there’s no help, no support, no mental preparation. I’m lucky to be surrounded by good people.”
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