Edward Theuns competed in soccer until age 15 and knew he was no Messi. He picked up cycling and, in a what seems a common theme amongst budding cyclists in Europe, soon found his niche and left the ball behind. However, it wasn’t a pretty start - on the first lap of his first race, Edward was out the back. In fact, he started 30 races that year and finished only a handful.
But he was infected with the cycling bug. At 14, Edward remembers attending Gent-Wevelgem and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and getting Robbie McEwan’s autograph and photos with Tom Boonen and Johan Museeuw. It’s hard for him to believe he’s now competing in the same races – the rise to the top came fast.
After his disastrous introduction, he began to see improvement each year, enough to keep him motivated. He started to hang with the peloton and managed a 4th place in his second year; it snowballed to eight wins in his fourth season.
His breakthrough victory came in his first year racing U23 at Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux. It’s a big race in cycling-crazed Belgium, and he won stage four, out-sprinting two guys he’d never heard of: Taylor Phinney and John Degenkolb. For Edward, it was the sign he needed. He never looked back.
Edward turned pro with Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise in 2014, and his rapid growth continued. He built on two wins in his first year with an impressive 2015: second at Dwars door Vlaanderen behind his teammate, second at Scheldeprijs behind Alexander Kristoff, first at Ronde van Drenthe and numerous top-10 finishes. He now had the interest of the WorldTour teams.
It was through persistence from director Dirk Demol, and the lure of a team with an excellent reputation and best Classics rider, Fabian Cancellara, that enticed him to sign with Trek-Segafredo in 2016, a proud moment for the young Belgian.
Edward was having a successful season, including a win in stage one at the Tour of Belgium, and was selected for the Tour de France. It began well for the young Belgian in his first Grand Tour as he claimed the best young rider's jersey in the first stage with a fifth place in the bunch sprint. However, it would all end in misfortune 12 stages later. In the stage 13 time trial, he crashed hard on a windy descent and fractured his T12 vertebra. It required surgery, ending his first Tour, and his season.
With his strengths in sprinting and the Classics, Edward is a vital part of the spring campaign. For 2017, his focus remains in helping Trek-Segafredo win a Classic, and in smaller races, try and cap his ambitions. It was a long road back from his debilitating injury, and more than anything, Edward wants to show he is back on track.