It's with mixed feelings that most professional riders choose to end their cycling careers. Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner talked to retired French pro Christophe Agnolutto on choosing the right moment, switching back into family mode and staying involved in cycling.
Looking at his palmarès, Frenchman Christophe Agnolutto achieved some beautiful victories, including the overall Tour de Suisse in 1997 and a stage at the Tour de France in 2000. But the former AG2R rider also knew how to be a no-less-important team-mate, helping his team leaders to glory during the last years of his active career.
Agnolutto only started cycling with ambition in his early twenties, and turned pro at the age of 25, in 1996, with Petit Casino. He remained true to the squad directed by Vincent Lavenu, which became Casino and later AG2R, until 2005, when Agritubel offered him a veteran position to finish his career in style.
Agnolutto was 37 years old in 2006 when he decided it was time to leave. "I would have wanted to do one last Tour de France in 2006, but Agritubel didn't select me for its roster," he recalled. "So I preferred to quit."
At first, it was "weird" for Agnolutto to stay at home, especially the first winter. "I did some jogging, I never completely stopped the sport," he said. "But I was 37, I have a wife and three children – it would have been more difficult if I had been 27. Moreover, I had been the one to decide to quit. Of course, I could have found another contract for one more year – but it might have been the year too much, if you know what I mean. It was the right moment to stop."
The Frenchman, who worked in publicity before becoming a pro cyclist, also had some professional plans to keep him busy. "I think retirement is worse when you don't have anything to do, no project. But I was about to create my own business, so I had no time to dwell on myself," he explained.
"Moreover, I keep close ties with the pros as I act as a vice-president of the French pro cyclists union (UNCP) – so I have to go to some races and events to stay informed. But I don't miss being gone in hotel rooms for half of the year at all!"
Continue to the full feature.