RIDERS Q&A: Lennert Teugels
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become apparent that some riders are struggling with motivation. Obviously, this is due to various different reasons and affecting people in different ways... whether it's the uncertainty of contracts for next year, not having the opportunities to race and showcase themselves this year, or just lacking the inspiration to get into some kit and out for a pedal. Because of this, we have decided to speak to some of the people we know to provide a small insight into their lives at this current time.
Hopefully these weekly/fortnightly Q&A's will provide you with not only that small bit of extra motivation, but an insight into the professional cycling scene and perhaps even some role models to look up to. We will be talking to an array of people... from ex-pro's, professional and semi professional men and women cyclists as well as people who have worked in the cycling industry such as team managers, coaches, ds's etc to provide a unique and different outlook on things and provide an insight as to what it takes to get to the top level.
The second person we will be talking to is 27 year old Lennert Teugels. He races in Belgium for the continental team Tarteletto Isorex as a half time pro. Lennert (Lenny) is well known Belgium for his long endurance rides where he will happily pedal along for a few hundred kilometers (probably smiling the entire time). He lives in Aalst with his girlfriend Laura - who we spoke to last week. Here's what he has to say...
Can you tell us about about you and how you ended up where you are now?
My name is Lennert Teugels, I am 27 years old and live in Aalst, Belgium with my girlfriend Laura. I race for Tarteletto Isorex, a continental team as a (half time) pro. I attended the University of Gent from 18-24 so cycling was only a hobby until after that... I didn't know if I had the potential to level up. My training time whilst I was in university was really limited which of course came with mediocre results. Only in my last year, when I had only a master thesis to write and I made a solid winter and rode a fantastic first half of the year which gave me the chance to be a trainee in a pro continental team - Veranda´s Willems. After that,I ended up on the continental level where I´m still at now.
When did you realise that professional cycling was the career you wanted to do?
The dream is pretty old (6-7 years old) but the realisation it was a possibility came only in 2017 when finishing my school.
You have been consistent over the past few years with some solid results. What has been your favourite race so far and why?
My favourite race as in riding fun is definitely Tour de Liege (2.12IC), 5 day stage race on the parcours of Liege Bastogne Liege. Although, I realise it's not possible to ride every year when the ambition to be a professional rider at the level of this race isn't very high. In professional cycling, I would chose for the hilly Coupe de France Races like GP Cholet, Tour du Vendee, Paris Bourges.
What is one race you want to do in the future, and look forward to the most?
My ultimate dream is to ride the Giro or Vuelta. Where most Flemish kids dream of Tour of Flanders and Roubaix, I only dream of mountains. I do realise this will be probably only a dream forever. More realistic goals are smaller stage races on the 2.1 or 2.PRO level. I have done Tour of Taiwan and that was in terms of complete experience maybe the best of my life.
We know that you love doing crazy endurance rides, do you have anything planned for this winter or next year? What has been the longest ride you have done so far?
I won't go out too far in the bad weather so further than couple of 200K´s won't happen in the winter as the darkness is soon there. As soon as the weather and daylight start to improve, I will plan some longer ones again. Although 2020 was probably the craziest year of marathon rides. It doesn't really fit in a busy racing calendar so I guess the craziest is over. My longest ride has been 365 kilometers and I have to say I am not really tempted to go a lot further. I know I can do it but that's about the fun limit. I don't want to take a tent or stop 25 times for drinks on a ride...
How did you deal with the COVID-19 situation and how did it directly affect you?
It gave me the chance for longer rides, only for fun. Especially first weeks and months it has been fun but after that I reached a bit of a boundary. I do realise, even though I like training a lot, competition is needed for getting that extra bit out of it. The rhythm of going from race to race suits my body also better for having top shape. But I don't see this period as a bad thing. It gave me the opportunities to do great rides in a great shape. Rides I would have done after my career when they would have probably taken me 2 hours longer...
What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not training and racing?
There is no period of no training but when there is no races, I have a nice and big family to visit. Of course I spend a lot of time with Laura as well as she doesn't have family here. But I have to say our lives are almost only bike racing-minded. We don't have any other big time spendings apart from watching movies or doing some standard things like walks and visiting nature or a park. Cycling is our lifestyle
Do you prefer watching your girlfriend race or racing yourself?
Difficult one. I rather race myself in general. But I would rather go watch a race what suits Laura than ride a race what does not suit me (for ex. a race what ends 99% sure in a bunch sprint). Anyway, I go watch every race if it's possible. Seeing Laura win gives the same emotion as winning myself.
What kind of rider do you think you are and what races do you like the best?
I have been put in the category of puncher but I believe that's not really it. I believe I am more a pure climber, something I can see in my FTP and longer efforts watts. Unfortunately, I have not had any chances to prove myself in longer climbs in races. And the races need to have uphill finishes, definitely.
What are your aspirations in the next 5 years?
I hope to be professional for another 3-5 years and if possible in a PCT team. I don't have the capacities for a WT team, but I think a PCT is in my possibilities.
How is your diet? Does it differ between in and out of season? Is this something you struggle with?
I think my foods is the aspect where I can still make the most progress in cycling. We do eat healthy with fresh cooking every day. But if I like to eat a bag of chips, I just do it. I also don't feel that I´m gonna ride faster with lower weight in the current racing calendars I ride. So if I can ever make the step to a higher level and ride a calendar with real mountains and climbing, this is the thing I can still improve. It rather gives me a calmness in my mind that I can still improve there, and it only stresses me out if I have to pay attention to it. I know I can lose about 1-2 kilo´s.
Living together with another cyclist is definitely a big advantage as it´s also interesting to see if certain foods give same or different results in terms of good legs.
How do you find motivation for those extra hard rides on rainy days, when you would rather stay in bed?
Looking at my training, people would expect me to have a special kind of motivation, but I rather see if as an addiction. Not even always healthy, I feel a kind of guilt if I didn´t ride. It would probably be better to take some rest days now and then (I cycled now around 350 days in a row…). So briefly, I don't have days where I want to stay in bed. I'm a bad sleeper anyway!
Do you find being in a relationship with a cyclist motivating? Do you train together a lot? Do you have similar efforts?
Absolutely, although I think it works especially the other way around as I am riding currently higher level than Laura. She strongly believes in her own capacities and gets motivation out of my performances. Laura rather inspires me than motivates. Seeing her training so hard while full time working is something I´m not sure I'm capable of. But I believe to be healthy on long term, motivation needs to come out of yourself. Not riding because of some particular reason or needing to prove something.
We train almost half of our kilometers together, which is pretty much all of our easy endurance and recovery rides. Our efforts in training differ a lot as we are 2 different types of riders. For Laura it's more important to have some freshness in the races as her acceleration is her weapon. While with me it's more training on the longer efforts.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self?
Start racing! And do it with the full options, not like an idiot (only started at 17 with a second hand bike, small team, no idea of training, no idea of anything actually).
What is your favourite training session?
Definitely endurance rides on hilly parcours.
What is your favourite cycling memory?
The whole last week of the season 2018. I did my 2 best performances ever in France and Laura was there as a soigneur in the Team (Cibel). Not much later I signed a pro contract. That week was just perfect. Even though it was deep in October if was fantastic weather, great atmosphere,... just perfect.
What advice would you give a rider who was aspiring to be where you are?
Believe in yourself and make sure you have people around who can help you with everything around cycling (materials, teams, connections, calendar,...) With the world of Oliver Naesen: EVERYONE can be a bad pro. If it's your dream, it's possible.
Can you see any problems in cycling these days?
One problem I see is that the continental level of racing is disappearing and that's bad for the development of riders. The youngest talents are taken from the development teams and straight to Worldtour. The riders who then can't handle it, drop down to the PCT level and then that's it. So if you want to make it, there is soon no other option than put everything on cycling on age of 18. It's too bad, as there is other things in life when you're 18. One crash and a bad season and soon you´re 23 and story is over, with nothing left. There should be a level where riders can also develop slower. Stories like Oliver Naesen and Dries de Bondt will be more and more rare.
Any other comments?
Lot of things in cycling are overrated in the mind. Everyone seems to be busy with that one TT suit that is 1 second faster, that massage that will make you recover better, that warm up, that chain that saves 2 watts. After all , the only thing you need is good legs. and 99% of those legs is built by food, training and sleep. Too many riders are busy with useless things.
We think that Lennert is a great role model for up and coming cyclists. He is an amazingly talented rider and his mindset and training in addition to his race results shows this. In a world of marginal gains, it is important not to forget the basics. If you have any questions for him, you can comment on this post or follow him on his social media accounts linked below!
If you have any specific questions you would like answers to, people you want us to speak to, or even some stories and advice you want to talk about... please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you next week!