|A new name popped up at the second race in the openingsweekend of the northern european cycling season. In a soaking wet Kuurne Rabobank-rider Roy Sentjens was the first to cross the finishline, winning his first race in the pro-league. A profile on this double nationality-rider.
Twenty-two years Roy Sentjens first saw light in the Belgian town of Neerpelt. Nowadays he still lives in Belgium, but moved to Hamont-Achel, very close to the Belgian-Dutch border. He still has both the Dutch and Belgian nationality, law allows him to not choose which one will the definite one before he turns twenty-eight. He most likes to ride the classics and is a good sprinter.
The Belgian newspaper 'Het Belang van Limburg' (Limburg is the Belgian province where Sentens lives) writes:
“It is not untill I turn 28 I have to choose one nationality. A passport does not mean that much to me. My preference yes are the Flemish races, that much is true. The rest only the future can tell. When it is concerned to the Dutch I am a Belgian, the Belgians think I am Dutch. Result: no attention what so ever. When I was a junior or even in the youthcategories and won allmost 200 races the papers mentioned me a lot. Now in my second year as a professional here I my hometown (where they in the past asked me everything everytime I appeared in shops or on the streets) nowadays they ask if I still race. They hardly read a thing about me. Tomorrow though I will buy all newspapers, now I can finally read about me."
As a youngster Roy Sentjens choose for the Dutch Rabobank-team. “I made that choise because the team has a professional structure also in the other than tradeteam I. I never regretted this decision. If I ever van win the Tour of Flandres, which is my dream, that will be for a big part thanks to the team. With this team I can grow in the pace I want. With this win my season can not go wrong anymore. One hell of a feeling I can tell you, believe me."
With that many strong riders Rabobank has in the team, it will be a hard job for Sentjens to make the team for the classics. "I will be really glad when I can start in for instance paris-Roubaix. You know, last year I was there in the breakaway of thirty men. I punctured five times and had to let the others go, even though I was in great shape. The one rider I did beat several times in the youth categories, Tom Boonen, was the one who gained a lot of publicity in that race. I am convinced I can do as well as he does. It is just a matetr of right time, right opportunities and right place. And the right amount of luck.”
Sentjens adds: "I surprised myself. I hardly realise I won yesterday. A lot has happened since, a lot of media-attention. The true followers of cycling knew me but to the major public I still was unknown. Theo de Rooy did put some pressure on me to make me book some results. I known I can win some sprints. When being born in a cyclingmad country like Belgian that to puts a focuss on you."
Born in Belgium, but with the Dutch nationality Roy Sentjens started in 2002 as a neoprofessionall in the Rabobank team. Before that period he had suffered some major injuries. With his 22 years he still stands at the start of his professional carreer. As an amateur he noted down in the seasons 2000 and 2001 more than a few victories and some well noticed wins. He has great potential, which combined with an ok sprint makes him one rider suited well for the classics. At the teampresentation, when kids where asked about their favorite rider the name Sentjens did not come up. Yet, because Sentjens speaks: “These kind of things, days are some of waiting for a few minutes of being presented to the bigger public. Sure I am not the first name that comes to mind when those kids are being asked for their favorite...... but eh, who knows in future. These days come with being a pro in such a team. I do not mind much attending them, it makes it fun most of all for those kids who get the chance of seeing their heroes live.”
Results so far:
1996-32 wins and golden bicycle "Eddy Merckx"
1997 junior-13 wins
1998 junior-6 wins
2001 espoir- 8 wins
2002 professional-- UCI place 644-19/10/2002
2003 professional- winner of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
Sentjens' website .