This Father’s Day I would like to say thank you to one of the most important people in my life: my wife. Because without her, I wouldn’t even be a father.
In my eyes, my wife is nothing short of a legend. Everything I’ve achieved and all that I own was only possible because she always had my back. And I’m talking right from the beginning.
Imagine young Jensie. I had a picture-perfect mullet, like a soccer or hockey player back in the day. I wore glasses. I wore black shirts that had band names or a picture of a World War II airplane on them. (I loved the P-51 Mustang; it’s such cool plane.) And of course my shirts were sleeveless. I was as 80’s as they come. And yet, in the boy I was back then, my extraordinary wife was able to see the man I could become.
She chose me. I still can’t believe my luck.
In 1997, during my professional cycling career, I had to choose between a two-year contract worth good money from a small team and a one-year contract for much less money from a big team. My wife said, “If this is important to you, and you want this, then go to the big team and test yourself.”
And so we gave up our apartment in Berlin. My wife and our first son, Marc, moved back in with her parents, and I drove more than 1,000 miles to France to try to become a Tour de France rider. I remember by the end of that year, I had to borrow $2,000 from my parents to be able to pay for our family holiday. We had nothing left from my neo-pro salary. My wife never complained.
Sometimes, at the kids’ school, fellow parents make comments about my wife for not working. One time I had enough of it and told one of them that my wife is the general manager of a very successful medium-sized family business. Because that’s what she is—she’s a hardworking lady, and the whole family is proud of her and happy to have her.
Knowing that my wife is always there helped me keep my head clear for racing and training. I always could—and still can—trust my wife to keep our kids, dogs, cat, and eight rabbits in check and under control. I would not have had half the career I did without her support. She is the reason why my career lasted that long.
My wife also gave me the freedom to decide when I wanted to retire. She knows me so well and knew if she forced me to stop too soon I’d become an unhappy man. She knew I needed to squeeze everything out of me and to finish on my own terms. Knowing that I had the freedom to do that was a great gift from her and showed me once again what a wonderful woman she is.
So here it is, Father’s Day, but I only want to say thank you to my wife for being such a great woman. Thank you, Stephanie, for always being on my side. And thank you for our six beautiful children. They are our biggest treasure, our biggest accomplishment. Period.
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