On Oct. 06, 2022, Rutger Wouters wrote his name on the annual fairground prize for elites without a contract and U23 in Bornem. Not so special, many readers will now think. But nothing could be further from the truth because it was Rutgers' 31st win of the season, improving his own record. It was also the 125th win in the late-bloomer's career. Two days later on Oct. 8, Rutger sprinted to victory number 32 in Lommel.

 Daarmee won hij 32 keer van de 85 wedstrijden waar hij aan de start stond in 2022 (bijna 40%). Cijfers om van te duizelen! Rutger is leraar aardrijkskunde op het Sint-Franciscuscollege in Heusden-Zolder. “Ik ben ze daar erg dankbaar voor de vrijheid die ze me geven. Op dinsdag, woensdag en donderdagnamiddag heb ik tijd om in de namiddag te gaan trainen.”

"Starting in late 2016 when I turned 25, there was actually a sudden click and I did feel when to accelerate and when not to."

When will Rutger Wouters follow in Ludo Dierckxsens’ footsteps?

That is a question that we at the editors of Cyclelive Magazine ask ourselves. Rutger has meanwhile turned 31 and maybe it’s about time a smart team manager opened his eyes and linked the uniqueness of this (marketing) story to the undeniable power Wouters exudes on a racing bike! That’s why Cyclelive Magazine headed to Beringen to let Rutger speak for himself.

Hello Rutger, you are clearly a late bloomer if we look at your palmares, how did you evolve into the glutton winner you are today?

“I didn’t start racing in the juniors until I was 17 and it wasn’t easy at first. That first year it was mainly trying to finish a race. Until the U23s, I had to develop more strength and above all develop more race insight, because I was totally lacking that. I won my first race as a sophomore, but the lack of tactics prevented me from winning more. And also the fact that with my studies I couldn’t train much hypothecated my progress.”

So from when did it come out?

“At 23, I became a teacher and that work-training combination is actually ideal. I could spend many more hours training than when I was a student and I felt myself getting much stronger in a short period of time. Yet course vision was still the ugly duckling I was riding around with. Starting in late 2016 when I turned 25, there was actually a sudden click and I did feel when to accelerate and when not to. Suddenly the tactical aspect in the race also became one of my assets and I really started winning regularly. As of 2017, I really stood out. In 2018 I became Belgian champion and in 2019 I won 30 races. Then corona threw a spanner in the works and there were almost no races in 2020. In 2021, I won 20 flourishes and so in 2022 I improved my own record with 32 wins.”

Is winning many races your ambition rather than becoming Belgian champion again.

“Yes definitely! I aim for quantity because I love racing so much. Rather win a whole season of races, than ride fewer races to peak at the BK. At the BK the chance of disappointment is greater than the chance of winning anyway, because there everything has to fall into the right fold…which is almost impossible because they are all riding on my wheel.”

What are your results in the performance tests?

“I pedal 300 watts at the fat threshold, my tipping point is 405 watts/5.63 watts per kg. and the maximum wattage in tests with an 8′ protocol is 440 watts/6.11 watts per kg. My peak wattage is just over 1500 watts.” – Rutger is 1m87 and weighs 72 kg.

With that, then, you have pro-worthy values. Even values of a good domestique.

“Yes, normally I should be able to stand my ground as a domestique in the pro peloton.”

Do you go on training courses during the winter?

“No, I train in Belgium an average of 22 to 23 hours a week and if the weather is really too bad on the Tacx. Also on the Tacx I have no problem training long hours.

How many hours do you train per week then?

“That has evolved over the years and become more and more. Now in preparation for the season I dare to put in some weeks of 35 – 40 hours. I feel good with long workouts and I enjoy doing that tremendously.”

Hola, working and then also training so much, does your girlfriend (Amber Aernouts) see you sometimes?

(Rutger laughs amused) “Yes, of course she is also a cyclist and we go out together several times every week. That’s the ultimate for us. Being able to practice our passion and hobby together in the open air. There is nothing better than that!”

Are you also into nutrition?

“I’ve also become maniacal about that starting in 2017 and that has definitely made me stronger as well. As has taking the nutritional supplements and products from Concap that I’ve been using since 2019.”

Is that really a surplus you feel?

“Especially if you don’t use them you feel the difference. For example, using their magnesium is an absolute must for me, if I don’t take it I can get cramps at the craziest times. But also all their other products give a clear extra. At the end of September last season, I really had a dip and I didn’t feel good. I was just completely drained. Then they advised me at Concap to take their Amino AKG. A few days later I won in Bornem. The difference from the days and weeks before was really huge. I actually couldn’t even believe it. Moreover, I really like the flavors of Concap’s isotonic drinks, gels and bars. Besides the quality of the products, taste is also important when you are on the bike for hours and have to eat and drink.”

Rutger, why aren’t you a pro cyclist yet? Hasn’t any pro team contacted you yet?

“Yep. I have already had some ‘offers’ from pro-continental teams, but for such proposals I kindly thank them. I have a good job and what they came up with was really not plausible!


“Well in short it came down to them offering the minimum required contract, but then I had to pay back more than half under the table. Their explanation then was that I could then prove myself at the pro level. Listening to it like that, I should actually be grateful for the opportunity I got that way given the age I already have. I love my sport, I dream of being a pro rider, but I’m still not crazy lol.”

That was one offer then no others?

“No, that’s how I’ve had several offers.”

How is it, do you think, that still no serious offer came?

“I’m a real late bloomer and maybe the team managers of the bigger teams don’t know my real story and the values I kick.”

And…they also ignore the unique story of the teacher and late bloomer that you are. In my opinion, really a huge marketing story that so far no one has taken to its worth. Surely, for the sponsors of any team you bring in, this is golden….

“Apparently no one has thought about this like this yet. In any case, I do know that I would really value my place as a domestique on a bigger team. There is still margin for progression if I were fully professionally supported.”

Thanks Rutger for this candid conversation and we wish you a fantastic career in the footsteps of Ludo Dierckxsens soon!

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