After 20 years of success at the highest level with numerous GP victories, the Motocross of Nations title with Belgium and two silver medals in the MXGP World Championship a career-switch is not always easy but for Kevin the next step, to share his wealth of experience with other riders, immediately presented itself.
“For me it was an easy transition; a few days before I stopped racing during the final GP of 2021 at Mantova I had a meeting with Antti (KRT team manager Antti Pyrhönen) and he made me a proposal to join KRT.
“Two days before this meeting I was concerned to stop racing as I had no real plan, but suddenly I had such a great opportunity! In fact everything went so quickly as we faced a short off-season so I was immediately busy with no time to think about retiring and so on.
“I even had the opportunity to still ride a bike occasionally last year so the transition was easy,” explained Kevin.
Racing for several manufacturers and teams during his illustrious racing career gave Strijbos the opportunity to develop his insider knowledge and improve his training over the years. He knew exactly what he needed to do to be a fierce competitor in his own right but sharing this experience with others was a different proposition.
“For sure I now feel more comfortable in my job as it’s my second season as coach, but all riders are different and that’s what I still need to learn a little. Sometimes I would do something one way, but Romain says ‘no, I want to do it this way’ so I have to think about it and maybe find a compromise or follow his way.
“For me it’s not super-difficult; I wasn’t really scared of that as I have much experience and did a lot of training for myself so it’s not completely new for me. I’m not the guy who needs to change his training and follow what you can see on the internet or elsewhere, and I feel that Romain is the same.
“We just stick to basics,” explained Strijbos, who is now working exclusively with former world champion Febvre. “Romain wanted to have me with him full-time. That’s easier for me too as I can focus entirely on him; last year I had to follow two guys and that was not always easy.”
Febvre ande Strijbos immediately had a good feeling together last season.
“To be honest I was initially a little apprehensive to work with Romain; I knew him as a rider but not as a person. But as soon as I had a meeting with him last year I saw that he was relaxed and approachable, and our working relationship immediately exceeded all expectations.
“The strongest point with Romain is that you don’t need to give him motivation; he is such a hard worker and always wants to push and push.
“Sometimes my job is actually to hold him back a little, to persuade him that he needs to take his time rather than to push him. It’s an important year for him; when he came back last year he showed what he is capable of and we have had a really good winter. We did all the training that was on our schedule, and he is feeling fit and ready!” added Strijbos, who is now even busier than during his last seasons as a racer.
“We spent one month on Sardinia, and then we travelled a lot as most of the time I’m with him. Sometimes I even feel like I’m still a racer; I go cycling with Romain, go to the gym with him, the only difference is that I don’t ride anymore. It’s a full-time job and I love it! When I stopped racing the plan was to spend more time with my family, but it’s worked out a little different.
“Of course the family supports me; we discussed the future even before I stopped racing and they agree with everything that has happened. Now my son is racing himself and I try to spend some time with him too when he’s training and racing; my life still definitively revolves around motocross!”
Strijbos has adapted well to a new chapter in his career and now feels completely au fait with his new role; a development which will be beneficial to himself, his rider Febvre and the entire Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP.
Strijbos was the 1999 85cc motocross world champion and, in 2001 he won the 125cc European motocross championship.
In 2006, Strijbos finished second in the world championship behind fellow Belgian Stefan Everts.
He finished second again in 2007, this time behind another Belgian, Steve Ramon, and ahead of Kiwi hero Josh Coppins.
Strijbos was a member of the winning Belgium team at the 2004 Motocross des Nations event that included Ramon and Everts.
Strijbos ended his professional racing career at the Italian GP in November 2021.
Photo courtesy Kawasaki
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