In 2019, the Belgian rider Maxime DE POORTER will join the ECSEL team. He rode for the EFC-L&R Vulseke team when he was in U23. Joining ECSEL means he is ready for a new start in his young career. The team is proud to have such a prestigious rider in their ranks and expects a lot from him in the season.

Maxime tells us more about his early years and his ambitions.

Hi Maxime, could you first introduce yourself?

I’m 22 years old and I come from Belgium. I live in Ypres, a city in western Flanders. I have three elder brothers. They all play football in clubs around Ypres. I played football as a goalkeeper until I turned 13.

What do you like doing apart from cycling?

I love football and I support Bruges. I also listen to music, especially pop, RnB and songs from the 80s.

Did you practice any other sports when you were young?

Yes of course. I first practised judo with my brothers because my dad would do judo too. I then turned to football. I had to stop judo because it was too difficult to combine school, football and judo altogether. I also played the flute until the age of 18 at the Academy of Ipres.

How did you discover cycling?

I discovered cycling when I saw Tom Boonen on TV winning Le Ronde in 2005. Maxime Vantomme who lives next door was also a source of inspiration. These are my two idols and it is them who pushed me into cycling.

At the age of 12, I started cycling on the roads near home. I immediately realised that it would become my passion.

What has been your career so far ?

When I was Aspiranten (minime in France [U13]), I rode for the club of Wervik where I did my first races. I had quite a poor start actually because I didn’t win any race but I still managed to finish  on the podium a few times.

My first win was when I was U15. It was at the Bury race in Wallonia during a two-man sprint after a breakaway. That same year, I finished several times on the podium. During my second year in the U17 category, I won three races  among which the championship of western Flanders!

In the U19 category, I changed teams and moved to Avia Crabbé, one of the best U19 teams in Belgium. Overall, I won 13 races in this category. The nicest was my win at Herbeumont during a hilly race in the Ardennes. I didn’t expect it at all!

In the U23 category I changed teams again and won 7 races with them. My greatest memory is my win at the Zillebeke race in 2017 because it was on the roads I’m familiar with. I was in a breakaway group with two other riders and managed to win the sprint. It was a great pleasure.

What is the race where you have the more regrets ?

That is definitely the Gent Wevelgem Nations’ Cup when the finish was in Ypres, my hometown. I was feeling really good that day but luck was not on my side. I fell early in the race and 10 km from the finish I had a flat tyre. I could’t follow the group of 7 that broke away when it happened. I finished 35th but I think I could have finished at least in the first 10 riders without all those race incidents.

After all these years, what kind of racer do you think you are ?

I think I’m both a puncher and sprinter. The races I like best are the hilly ones with a finish in a breakaway group and the uphill sprints are my favourites. 

Why did you choose to race in France this year?

I decided to come and race in France to discover new horizons. I love races in France and won a few of them. Here the way races are ridden is different from Belgium and I like it a lot.

What do you like at ECSEL ? Why did you choose it rather than any other team ?

While I was riding in France, I made the decision to join a top level amateur team and I noticed the ECSEL team. Then I had contacts with Cyril Dessel and we got on very well. He liked my profile which could be an asset for the Coupes de France. I’m very willing to do my best for these races because I think they suit me.

How do you feel in the club now you’ve met the wole staff and your teammates ?

I like the character of the club. It has a family side to it. Basically, the team is above all a bunch of friends and I found it easy to fit into the team.

What can the club bring you ?

Last year, I didn’t win many races and clearly I want to regain the fighting spirit to win new races. I guess ECSEL can help me do it. The club does everything it can to make me feel good. If I’m mentally OK, the rest will follow.

What do you expect to achieve this year ?

Obviously I’d love to win new individual but also team races. The idea is to help my teammates when the road profile doesn’t suit me and the other way round.

What are your objectives in the long run ?

I’d love to turn professional in 2020 and have a great career after. I don’t claim to be the next Greg Van Avermaet but I’d like to have fun on races and do a good job.