Our popular “Things With…” series returns as we get to know the people behind Human Powered Health. The youngest team director in next year’s program, Dutch 29-year-old Luuc Bugter will begin his time with the squad on November 1. We sat down with the man from Arnhem to learn more about his journey to Human Powered Health and how a race against a four-time Olympic champion changed his career forever.
I started out as a speedskater. A typical Dutch sport, I had some talent and I was looking for a sport that I could do in the summer to work on my physical condition. I did a combination of speed skating and cycling for a few years, but made the decision to go with cycling.
Cycling is a big adventure. We are lucky as professionals, you see a lot of places and meet a lot of people and I think personally I learnt to focus and to plan. It is not always easy to be a cyclist so you have to make the most out of those moments. When there are tough moments in your personal life, it helps to recall those hard times on the bike and know there is always a finish line.
I skated against four-time Olympic champion Sven Kramer. It was in the Olympic stadium at the national championships, live on Dutch television in front of 16,000, but that was the moment where I thought, this is the time to quit speedskating and focus on new goals, you know, he’s quite good.
It’s a different feeling in the car but I have the same adrenaline. For me it doesn’t make a difference, the feeling in the final of a race is still the same but of course, physically it’s completely different.
I don’t miss racing. Sometimes, yes when there are lots of races with crosswinds and the classics, that was a period that I really liked, but it was definitely the right decision to become a sports director. I have no hard feelings when I’m following tough races, it only motivates me because I know what it feels like to be a cyclist and focus 100% on your sport.
I raced with some of the best riders in the world on Vérandas Willems-Crelan. I did the Paris-Tours as a stagiaire and it was a great experience. Guys like former Belgian champion Dries De Bondt and two-time Tour of Flanders champion Stijn Devolder I learnt a lot from.
There were big changes in cycling in my career. The sport became more professional with the approach to training, nutrition and data. I think with the knowledge I have now I would have made changes in the past with different types of exercise, focussing more on nutrition but that’s the way it goes.
You have to be more than a cycling team. It is something that I learnt on BEAT Cycling, there is more than racing. Human Powered Health is more than just the team and now teams have to be visible on social platforms and this will help the message grow.
It’s not good that the WorldTour riders have been taking all the points in those races. I think the riders at the WorldTour level have to be in the best races. There are not so many chances for UCI ProTour and continental teams. We talk about relegation now but those points can be more important to the other teams to get so that they can build programs that are more competitive.
The plan was always to be a sports director. I studied sports, health and management so I knew from the beginning. I think it’s really important for sportspeople to finish their studies and have a base knowledge. When I started at BEAT Cycling I did event management for them and financial administration. I combined work and cycling because I knew how important it is to develop yourself as there is always a moment when you need to focus on your social career.
It’s great to focus on a team instead of yourself. That’s one of my favorite things about being a sports director. I like the responsibility for sure, to make a plan before a race and achieve the goal that you had, that is one of the best feelings. It is special to develop riders in this way and it is my main motivation.