Bert Grabsch has formally announced his retirement after 15 years as a professional rider. The former world time trial champion said that he would have liked to have stayed on for another year, but was unable to find a new team for the 2014 season.
The search for a new team “was difficult,” Grabsch told Radsport-News.com after announcing his retirement via Twitter, explaining that he “always hoped that he would get a satisfactory offer, but that was not the case.” Once he realized that he would not be with a WorldTour team, he was “frustrated and disappointed,” leading ultimately to the conclusion to retire.
The 38-year-old appeared bitter as he explained what he saw as the reasons for his lack of offers. “Some of my former colleagues didn't seem to remember how I helped them or didn't want to put in a good word for me,” he said.
And although he says he doesn't want to say anything against Omega Pharma-QuickStep, where he has ridden the last two season, he does note that he “had too few racing days this year” to get into his rhythm.
“I had few races, hardly any WorldTour races, no Tour de France. I was depressed very often this year. I would say it was the most difficult year of my career.”
The highlight of Grabsch's career was winning the World time trial title in 2008, yet he seems also bitter about that.
“This success should have happened two or three years earlier. After this win, I had hoped to find one or two private sponsors. That didn't happen."
“At that time cycling was in a deep crisis after the Fuentes affair, we were the bad boys. And the feedback reflected that. If I had had this success earlier, then today I would perhaps be financially taken care of."
Grabsch first “big” team was Phonak, where he rode from 2001 to 2006.
“I had a great time there, despite the many scandals, many doping cases.” He paid the price for Floyd Landis' doping positive at the 2006 Tour de France. “I was at the Tour then, had worked hard for him for three weeks and in the end came away with nothing, no bonuses, absolutely nothing.”
When Landis won with his now-famous solo break on stage 17 to Morzine and moved back into contention Grabsch had contrasting feelings. “At first I was just happy for him as teammate. But a little later I had some thoughts about it.” And in the end “I was disappointed with Landis. There was no apology from him and that was after we had done everything we could for him for three long weeks.”
Grabsch career started in 1998 with the Agro Adler Brandenburg team and he rode for Team Cologne in 1999 and 2000 before moving to Phonak. In 2007 he joined T-Mobile, where he turned into a world-class time trialist and special domestique.
In addition to his world title, he won the German national time trial title four times. He had a number of other victories, including the time trial at the Vuelta a Espana in 2007, and the overall win in the Sachsen Tour in 2008.