“I have success, money, women. I’ve been lionized by the public and the press. The world is at my feet. I’ve spread my wings and here I am, soaring above everything and everyone. But in reality, the descent has already begun.”
At age 20, Thomas Dekker was already earning €100,000 a year—as an amateur bike racer. The next year, he turned pro and his salary quadrupled then rose again to €900,000 as he established his position as a super-domestique among Europe’s wealthiest superteams. The sport marveled at Dekker’s rise as the young racer set his ambitions on capturing cycling’s biggest prizes for himself. Before long, though, Dekker found himself corrupted by money, dazzled by fame, and cracking under the relentless pressure to perform at a superhuman level.
In his tell-all book DESCENT: My Epic Fall from Cycling Superstardom to Doping Dead End, Dekker reveals a sordid way of life full of blood bags, drugs, prostitutes, and money. DESCENT tells the story of a yearslong bender that exposes the brutal truth of his life as a professional cyclist. And Dekker is not alone; he names those who fell with him and those who aided in his downfall. In DESCENT, we take an unflinching look at the European peloton as it roars through its modern boom years—the height of the EPO era—and what we see is shocking. You won’t be able to turn away from this page-turning read about one man’s rise, fall, and redemption and what his story reveals about professional sports.
Thomas Dekker is a Dutch former professional cyclist whose talent on the bike quickly took him to the top of the sport. He raced for The Netherlands in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, won two Dutch National Time Trial Championships, and captured victories in the 2006 Tirreno-Adriatico and the 2007 Tour of Romandie. He rode for the Dutch Rabobank superteam and then Silence-Lotto before a retroactively tested sample returned positive for EPO. In 2009, Dekker was suspended for two years for the drug violation, and it was later confirmed during Operacion Puerto that Dekker was among the clients of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. After his suspension, Dekker joined the American Garmin Development Team and rode for Garmin-Barracuda from 2012-2014. Dekker claims to have ridden clean for Jonathan Vaughters and he became a popular rider in the American peloton. He retired after an attempt on the World Hour Record in 2015.
Thijs Zonneveld is a Dutch sports journalist and former professional cyclist. He covers the sport of cycling for Holland’s biggest newspaper and serves as a commentator for Dutch public television. His work appears regularly in No.nl, Nusport.nl, and Wieler Magazine. Zonneveld received the award for the best Dutch sports journalist in 2016 for Descent.
Presented here as a guide--and a warning--to aspiring racers who dream of joining the professional racing circus, Phil's adventures in road rash serve as a hilarious and cautionary tale of frustrating team directors and broken promises. Phil's education in the ways of the peloton, his discouraging negotiations for a better contract, his endless miles crisscrossing America in pursuit of race wins, and his conviction that somewhere just around the corner lies the ticket to the big time fuel this tale of hope and ambition from one of cycling's best story-tellers.
Pro Cycling on $10 a Day chronicles the racer's daily lot of blood-soaked bandages, sleazy motels, cheap food, and overflowing toilets. But it also celebrates the true beauty of the sport and the worth of the journey, proving in the end that even among the narrow ranks of world-class professional cycling, there will always be room for a hard-working outsider.