Thomas Dekker: The Descent (Mijn Gevecht) — Thijs Zonneveld

Jan van den Berg
Jul 6 · 2 min read

I finished this book in one sitting. Partly because Zonneveld has a pleasant writing style. But also because the rather recent story of a hugely talented and (very) young cyclist who early on in his career got involved with dope and raced towards destruction is fascinating.

Thomas Dekker: The Descent (Mijn Gevecht) — Thijs Zonneveld (2016) — 220 pages

It’s the (auto)biography of Thomas Dekker but it is just as much the biography of the cycling world in the early 2000s. And this world, as we now know, was rotten to the core. This book helped uncover parts of it when it came out in 2016. And many more books about this subject have come out since and around that time.

The book is telling and doesn’t hold back, for anything of anyone. Even Dekker himself doesn’t come across as a particular likeable character. Arrogant, cocky, egotistical and self-destructive to a fault. A very bright star who burned out VERY quickly.

He only did one Tour de France and his actual relevant career was only a few short years. The book came out three years ago, and even this year’s Tour de France will have riders older than Dekker is at the moment. So there is a sense of what could have been.

One important takeaway is the notion that using dope is a gradual (non-conscious) thing. Driven by ego and desire to win. But even more important is the notion that there is no such thing as a casual doper. You either dope or you don’t.

As a cycling enthusiast it’s not necessarily what you want to read. But it is what it is.


Originally published at Jan van den Berg.