The quirky but commanding Holm at the Tour de France said he wouldn’t return to the race again, intimating but not confirming retirement.
Speaking at the Tour of Britain, the 55-year-old clarified he had planned to leave the sport he’s been a part of since 1986, but after talking to Quick-Step Floors boss Patrick Lefevere had a partial change of heart.
“I would stop, my plan was to stop but when I said to Patrick I would stop I got a second thought,” Holm said. “Even if I could keep a little foot in, just to go once a month for a race I would like it because I really think doing nothing for 150-200 days a year must be strange.”
Holm over the past 14 years has directed virtually every superstar sprinter, most recently from Mark Cavendish to Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel and now Fernando Gaviria. The WorldTour peloton is undergoing a change of the guard, which Holm perhaps is less attached to compared with some of the all-time great, current and fading giants he’s previously guided.
That may have influenced but is not the primary impetus behind retirement that came down to a personal decision to spend more time with family.
“I have a chance now to have a sort of a normal life. The world of cycling I love it but you also live inside a bubble -- it’s not real life here,” he said.
“The small things can make you happy also.”
Holm has dedicated a lifetime to the sport. He turned professional as a rider in 1986, competing up until 1998 before assuming managerial positions.
“I was sitting around at a restaurant at the Tour of Poland and I think I had worked with one third of all riders in the past,” he said.
“You really feel safe in cycling because always someone covers your back. We can fight each other, even the sports directors, but everyone is friendly.
“I mean, I’d say even the new generation of journalists is nice people,” Holm continued. “It’s changing also because 20 years ago we hated each other – most of them – with a good reason. They were digging in stuff we didn’t really like, and some went over the top also.
“Now going to races is like going on a family holiday. Of course, we have to win and so we do.”
In a nod to his standing, Holm has maintained relationships with sprinters who have since left his stewardship including Cavendish (Dimension-Data) as well as Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), who he’d just gotten off the phone with.
“I spoke with Kittel this morning. Honestly, I think it was always an honour to work with those guys. [Danilo] Hondo, a great sprinter, [Erik] Zabel, Greipel, Cavendish, [Alessandro] Petacchi -- all of them,” said Holm.
“Last week I was in Belgium for the Great War Remembrance Race [and] to visit my old boss, Walter Godefroot. I always thought if one of your riders visits you 10 years after when it’s over, or 20, that’s out of respect. I hope someone visits me in 20 years.”
After the Tour of Britain, Holm will travel to Paris-Tours before the off-season and an unscripted 2019.