Martin Velits (Quick-Step Floors) crossed the finish line of stage 6 of the Tour of Guangxi in the middle of the peloton, bringing to an end his 11-year road career. The 32-year-old announced his retirement in early October, explaining it is better to finish early "than too late."
While Velits was unable to celebrate a personal win in China, he was a key rider in the team's sprint stage wins with Fernando Gaviria. Ensuring that he can leave the sport a 'winner' in his final race.
"I've was in China 10 or 11 years ago for the Tour of Qinghai Lake and it is a completely different race," Velits told Cyclingnews of finishing his career at the inaugural Tour of Guangxi.
"I didn't really have any expectations, but I am actually glad to be here and to finish my career with a team like we have here now and with the results we have had."
He has been key member of the Quick-Step Floors team that has enjoyed success in Europe, North America and now China in 2017. Velits added that he could hardly have written a better script for his farewell.
"I couldn't imagine any different team to finish my career and this race is just perfect with all the results and success," he added.
A Slovakian national road and time trial champion, Velits' only other professional win came at the Vuelta a Espana in the 2010 team time trial when riding with the HTC-Columbia squad. A reliable domestique with several top-10 results to his name, Velits' career was largely spent in support of others but he hasn't stopped him from celebrates the successes of his teammates.
"I had a nice programme from Down Under, California and here," Velits said of his season. "I like to travel and I like to travel far. We always had pretty successful races all over the world so it is really hard to pick any one. But the truth is, I like the far away races from the European scene, but it is hard to pick."
Rediscovering the love of riding a bike
Like his career, Velits doesn't want any fanfare surrounding his retirement to distract from the team and the job at hand. For the final 168km of his professional career, it would simply be a race day like any other he explained.
"It won't be any different from any other race that I finish and I don't really expect, or want, to have it any other way. It is just another race finished," said Velits, who joins twin brother Peter in retirement.
Although he will no longer race professionally, Velits will remain involved in the sport. The love affair with cycling will continue for Velits through his Isadore cycling apparel and aim of rediscovering what made him pursue his cycling as his career.
"I still want to ride my bike and it will be more about rediscovering the love of why I started my ride my bike at a young age," he said.
"I already have in my mind some kind of weekly schedule that I want to dedicate to bike riding. It will be all about that."