Full name: Tom Alexander Gakes
Nickname: 't Beest van Zwaag
Date of birth: 22-09-1988
Place of birth: Hoogerheide
Length: 1.81 m
Completed education: Bachelaor Human Movement Sciences (VU, Amsterdam)
Current education: Master Human Movement Sciences (VU, Amsterdam)
Current employer: Albert Heijn
Sport: Cycling, road and track
Started with cycling: Summer 2003 (racing since 2009)
Specialization: Criterium races, domestique, lead-out train till flamme rouge, points race, madison and tandem races
On Thursday, September 22, 1988 I was born in the village Hoogerheide, Brabant. At a young age I moved to the German village Stolzenau with my parents, which is about 45 km north-west of Hanover. We moved there because my father went to work at a Dutch military base. During the time I lived there, I had a serious accident which caused serious head injuries. I have been in a coma for some time, but I'm not sure for how long. The first memory of life that I have is when my parents removed me from the hospital, because medical care in the hospital where I stayed was seriously compromised. For many years I've had problems with both my short and long term memory, but eventually I made a full recovery.
After I had lived in Germany for several years, I moved back to The Netherlands with my parents. We went to Hoorn. Here I went to primary school (Duiventil) and highschool (Werenfridus), and I graduaded for my high school diploma. During my highschool period I was active in organizing various activities in school. This ranged from small festivals and sports tournaments to benefit action for Spieren voor Spieren, which yielded almost 21,000 Euros. I think this is quite something to be proud of.
After obtaining my high school diploma I started studying human movement sciences at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. I completed my Bachelor in 2011 and I'm currently a Masters student at the same faculty.
During my time in high school, I came into contact with the sport of cycling. This began with one or two times a week a little quiet ride in the area, but soon I wanted more. After riding for myself for one year, I went to the local club, HRTC Hoorn. This club welcomed me and allowed me to train with the youth riders for the rest of the season, to learn some basic skills to ride a bike. I also rode a few club races there, where I regularly finished in podium positions in races aganst riders like Bouke Kuiper, Pim Ligthart and Jetse Bol. The following year I joined this club and I wanted to ride national races. This did not work out because in a medical test an exception to my heart was observed. After one year of intensive research I was eventually cleared by the doctors to go racing. But then I was immediately confronted with the following setback: I had a pinched femoral artery. If at that time I was helped immediately to these complaints, it was probably a simple intervention to resolve. But before that, expensive research was needed. And the insurance would not pay. I then started saving money for the examinations myself, but it took several years before I had the money to afford the medical testing. By that time, my complaints got so aggravated that I needed a much more complicated surgery, in which had a portion of the artery had to be removed. This surgery was performed in the summer of 2008 in the MMC in Veldhoven. Shortly after this surgery, while I have had only very little time to trsin, participate in the Dutch championship Students without a license. Here I managed to gain a 22th place. I'm still very proud of this because I even though I was untrained, many riders finished behind me or didn't finish at all on a very tough loop.
In 2009 I moved to the Rietveld cycling team, the elite / espoires department of WTC Woerden. At the end of 2009, Rietveld stopped sponsoring this team and the team started a partnership with WV Staion. This is how Team Woest was born, the team I raced for untill 2011. From 2012 I race for HRTC again, where I'm one of the key riders of the team.
I'm also an ambassado for the Raisin Hope Foundation. This foundation was founded by former professional cyclist Saul Raisin, and is committed to people with traumatic brain injuries and their caregivers. By clicking on the banner on the right side of your screen, you'll be linked through to the site of this foundation, where you can find more information. Recently a Dutch branch of this foundation was started as well. I will write a blog for this website every 2 weeks.