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Belgian pro-cyclist Justin Laevens comes out as gay

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Belgian U23 cross racer Justin Laevens has come out of the closet as a gay man.

Laevens, age 19, opened up about his sexuality in a new interview with the Belgian sports website

“I had been thinking about it for two years. It was a big step,” Laevens explained in the interview. “My parents were very positive about it. I was especially afraid of the reactions of bigger riders or teams, that they would look at me differently, but I don’t think that’s the case.”

Laevens admission is of particular note, given the dearth of openly-gay male riders in cross racing. For Laevens though, the need to come out far outweighed any negative repercussions.

Related: Pro-rugby player Devin Ibañez comes out as gay

“Being out in the sports world is difficult,” Laevens said. “I hope I can set an example for other athletes, for riders or for cyclo-crossers who may still be hidden in their shell.”

Fortunately, the response thus far has been a positive one. Laevens took to Instagram to thank the world for the outpouring of support he has received. His Instagram story also confirms that he has been together with his boyfriend, fellow rider Idse Storme, for about nine months.

“Thank you for all your beautiful and positive messages!” he posted the morning of January 7. “I hope to be an example to others. stay yourself, enjoy your life & be happy yourself!”

Laevens will next compete in the Belgian Championships in Meulebeke on Sunday January 10. We’re happy to be riding with him on our team.