Few of us knew the name Max Van Heeswijk until yesterday. Many of you may still not know who he his.
Van Heeswijk was born in 1973 in Limburg, the southernmost of the 12 Dutch provinces. He rode for Motorola in 1995, Robobank until 1998, rode as a team Discovery rider from 2003-2006 before re-joining Robobank in 2007. he ended his career with the Wiliems team in 2008.
Major career wins were nothing to write home about and included Wachovia International (2004), Paris-Brussels (2000), Danmark Rundt, Points jersey (2004) and one stage of the 2005 Vuelta a España. Max was a journeyman roleur and a decent professional.
On June 17th, Van Heeswijk was interviewed by Dutch journalist Nando Boers for the NuSport magazine. Given that he was a rider team mate of Lance Armstrong during his Team Discovery years, Boers wanted to speak to Van Heeswijk as the only Dutchman to have anywhere near the allegations currently surrounding the 7-time Tour De France winner.
According to NuSport editor, Richard Plugge, Van Heeswijk talked about doping within the team and within the peleton. He was then asked if he himself doped. The answer was yes.
The retired rider then asked for the comments regarding doping to be omitted from the interview. Boers - and who could blame him - replied that this was not possible.
It seems that realising that he was about to likely to find himself in a whole heap of trouble Van Heeswijk grabbed the disk that contained the recording and threw it in the trash. Boers asked for the disk to be returned but Max refused and was “shown out the door by the Van Heeswijk’s rottweiler” - Google translate was obviously losing something in the translation here!
Nando Boers immediately wrote down everything about the conversation and returned to his office. NuSport tried contacting Van Heeswijk to return the disk and, when this was unsuccessful, reported the theft to the local police.
Yesterday, the day before the story was to be published, Van Heeswijk contacted NuSport to say that he wanted to retract what he had said in the interview - he had never mentioned EPO and had never confessed. NuSport refused to accept this, saying that they could not “pretend” that the previous interview had not taken place.
The disk, it seems, will be long gone. However, Nando Boers, Richard Plugge and NuSport are sticking to their story.
And a curious one it is too.
So what have we learned here? That, according to one lowly Dutch rider, doping was widespread in the peloton during the Armstrong years and that Van Heeswijk himself doped? Maybe.
Max Van Heeswijk probably wanted a quiet life after professional cycling. I certainly don’t know what he had planned. However, I’m fairly sure that it didn’t involve a very much on the record chat with Jeff Novitsky, the U.S. prosector currently charged with investigating the allegations against Lance Armstrong.
Remember the name Max Van Heeswijk. You may hear it again soon.