One of the peloton’s most experienced professionals, Lars Bak, will make the transition from rider to mentor in 2020 as it’s been confirmed that he will take up a new position as an Assistant Sports Director at NTT Pro Cycling.
Bak (39) rode his 18th and final season in the colours of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka in 2019 after which he called time on a stellar career that saw him race with distinction for among others Lotto-Soudal, HTC-Highroad and Team CSC.
The former Danish road race champion and Giro dÍtalia stage-winner capped off his career in some style as he finished seventh at Paris-Tours in October concluding a season in which he raced over 12,000km. 2019 also saw him ride his eighth Tour de France and in the process the 20th Grand Tour of his career.
In a relatively youthful squad for 2020, bolstered by the signing of nine new riders, Bak joins a department led by compatriot Lars Michaelsen, who recently was confirmed as taking up the position of Head Sports Director for next season.
He will link up with the team immediately at its pre-season training camp in Oliva, Spain, in mid-December as we look ahead to the season and our first race as newly rebranded NTT Pro Cycling at the Santos Tour Down Under in late January.
Lars Bak: Assistant Sports Director
I’m really happy that everything fell into place for me to take on this new challenge in my life but I now have to quickly switch my mindset from being a rider to that of being a sports director.
Of course it’s a big change and everything is going to be new for me, so I will be looking to listen and learn as much as possible from the excellent group of experienced guys already in the group. I’m effectively a trainee all over again as this is all new!
Of course I’ve been in the game for many years and you always presume to know exactly what a director is doing but there’s a lot to learn including all of the planning both on the race itself as well as in the background.
It’s going to be good to be at our training camp in Oliva where we will all be together – riders and staff – as it’s a very important time for us all to come together as a team.
For me I hope to start out in some of the smaller races but before that, next week, will be a learning process to do all of the relevant planning with all of my colleagues and learn the protocol of being a director.
It feels funny to say that now I’m a director, and it will take some time getting used to, but I will try and not speak too much but rather learn first from the others and take it day-by-day, and hopefully we can realise some success early in the year.
Lars Michaelsen: Head Sports Director
Over the years Lars has collected tons of experience within pro cycling as a rider. Now his challenge will be in executing the job from “the other side” with that same ambition ie. what’s best for the team?
I have both raced with and against him, when he was an amateur as well as when we were both pro riders (2002-2007) and I’ve also had very close interaction with him over a two year period where I was his sports director (2008 and 2009). I was also there to encourage him from the team car via the radio when he won the Danish National TT Championship in 2008.
But crucially, what I strongly remember from those years was a Lars Bak who was always constructive about how to tackle the next day’s race, seen from the team’s perspective; and that is the essence of what the job of a DS is all about.