"Oud Hoogstraeten" and "William's Place", the names don't give it away, but these are the two fan clubs of Lotto rider Gert Dockx. A name well-known to cycling enthusiasts, yet not to those that only watch the occasional race on TV. This is because Gert is in the habit of riding at the head of the platoon some 75 miles long before Michel Wuyts' famous mantra "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen" resounds in living rooms everywhere. And yet his supporters are proud of everything he achieves. In Jeff's words:
"Watching him give his very best for his team mates, makes us enormously proud. Our club may only count some 100 members, but everyone here's pretty fanatic." The most fanatic of all is without doubt Aunty Lilly, Gert Dockx' aunt and chairwoman of the "Oud Hoogstraeten" fan club.
"One time I was unable to speak for four days after he had won a race in the junior division. I can't explain. Gert is my everything. See, my grandson's a cyclist too. But if Gert's riding somewhere the same day, I'll go see Gert."
The other driving forces behind Gert's success can be found in "William's Place", in his hometown Rijkevorsel. It's also the fan club of cyclo-cross racers Toon and Thijs Aerts'. And of every other cyclist in Rijkevorsel. "William's palace" is also Gert Dockx' own hangout, as he still lives in "Veussel". And even though a bar is not really a cyclist's biotope during racing season, Gert loves to spend his holidays here.
"One time I went to Jamaica with Ruth. But my work takes me abroad more than enough. During my vacation I just want to be at home. Or here with my buddies. To celebrate, you know?" he smiles conspiratorially to patron Tom Van den Broeck, who took over William's Place 13 years ago.
"I know Tom will never gossip about me. What happens in Veussel, stays in Veussel!"
With the support of two fan clubs all those miles spent in front of the platoon become a lot more bearable. And now you can become a driving force behind cycling too. As a share holder you can have a say in the Lotto-cycling team, starting from 50 euro. There are 3 formulas: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each have their specific, exclusive advantages. You can gain access to the general assembly, get a coupon for the Lotto Soudal-shop, and the chance to share unique experiences with the team and the cyclists. The bigger the investment, the more exclusive the advantages are.