2003 Ironman World Championship runner-up Rutger Beke called a news conference today at the Uplace Team headquarters in his native Belgium and announced his retirement effective immediately.
Despite his wins at Ironman Arizona in 2007 and in Cozumel in 2009, the quiet Belgian felt seemingly unhappy with his efforts and results recently.
"The drive to prove myself in races is gone. I have always considered myself a person who thinks in terms of black and white. There is no gray area for me. You either give it a 100 percent or you do something else. For a long time, I gave my all to triathlon. Now it is time for something new."
What the new endeavor is though is not clear at this time and Beke only hinted that coaching is not on his mind.
When Beke finished second to Peter Reid at the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 2003, the relatively unknown Belgian stormed into the triathlon limelight and many wondered if he might be the next man from the country so rich in cycling history and passion to take the title in Hawaii just as Luc Van Lierde had done in 1996. But it wasn't until 2008 that Beke finally appeared back on the podium in Hawaii again, this time in 3rd place.
In 2004 his name popped up in the media again, this time though the news wasn't so positive. He had tested positive for EPO and was suspended from competition for 18 months. In 2005 the decision was reversed and he was exonerated in the case.
In addition to his Ironman wins in Arizona and Cozumel, Beke also took the title at the 2005 Ironman 70.3 Monaco.
At the end of last season Beke joined the Belgian Uplace team that also features Tine Deckers, Sofie Goos, Bert Jammaer, Axel Zeebroek, Bart Aernouts and Bruno Clerbout and it seemed that he would be a mentor to this relatively young team and eventually maybe slip into somewhat of a managerial role.
"I was, and still am, really excited about the team. Very few winters have I trained as well and as hard as I did the past few months with Bert, Axel, Bruno, Bart, Tine, Sofie and the entire support staff. Even without me, the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team is a powerful project that will improve and empower Belgian triathlon," said Beke.
Ben De Wolf the manager of the Uplace Triathlon Team added: "The team will surely miss him. But making this tough personal decision despite the safety of a contract that would only expire at the end of 2012 is a sign of Rutger’s courage. We wish him all the best. Despite this unfortunate news, the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team will continue its hard work."