Dekker retires from cycling

Dutchman failed to find a team after unsuccessful hour record attempt

Thomas Dekker has announced his retirement from cycling effective immediately. With no contract renewal forthcoming by Garmin-Sharp at the end of 2014, Dekker set his sights on the hour record to land himself a contract for this season. The Dutchman fell short of Rohan Dennis' (BMC) benchmark of 52.491km by just over a lap of the Aguascalientes velodrome. While there were suggestions Lampre-Merida were interested in adding a Dutch rider to its squad, Dekker's situation remained unchanged.

"For weeks I've been thinking about it. I have pondered, I've weighed my thoughts carefully, I oversaw the options and considered them one by one. I've listened to my mind and to my heart. Now I have made up my mind. I quit cycling," Dekker wrote on his personal website. "I've experienced a lot as a cyclist. I've won and I've lost, I fell and stood up again. I learned a lot - mostly about myself. I've seen all sides of the coin: the front and the back, but also the ragged edges on the sides."

"My last hour as a cyclist I gave it my all in Mexico, during the attack on the world record. I wanted to prove I can still ride fast, and also I wanted to know whether I still want to be a cyclist. The answer now, a few weeks after the attack on the record, is clear to me."

The 30-year-old turned professional in 2005 with Rabobank after impressing the previous year when he won the Dutch national time trial title and claimed silver in the U23 men’s road race and time trial events at the 2004 World Championships.

In his first year as a professional, Dekker defended his time trial title, won stages at the Tour of Poland and Critérium International and won the GP Stad Zottegem. In 2006 he won Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour de Romandie the following year to further announce himself as one of the best young riders in the peloton. Dekker made his Tour de France debut in 2007, finishing 35th overall, after several good performances in stage races.

Despite a good start to 2008, there was no return to the Tour for Dekker who left Rabobank in August, announcing the next month he’d signed a two-year deal with Silence-Lotto.

Dekker was named in Silence-Lotto’s Tour team but a positive test on July 1, 2009 saw him sacked from the team and handed a two-year ban for doping. Dekker admitted to doping throughout his career, starting in 2005, explaining it was “a way of life” at the team.

Dekker returned to the professional ranks in 2011 via the Garmin-Cervelo development team, joining the WorldTour team the following year. In his two seasons with the American team, Dekker rode the Giro d’Italia twice and the Vuelta a España but was a shadow of the rider he was prior to his band. Dekker's only win with Garmin was stage five of the 2012 Circuit de la Sarthe

"My whole life up to now was dominated by cycling – but I do not want to depend on my form, my equipment, my team, anyone or anything any longer. My cycling career was beautiful, ugly, intense and edifying," Dekker added. "I'm ready for a new step. Without my bike."

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