After a professional career that has lasted 16 seasons, Danish rider Nicki Sørensen has decided to call it a day. The 39-year-old will be out of contract with Tinkoff-Saxo at the end of this season and has chosen not to seek an extension.
“I've decided that it's my last year as a cyclist. Personally, I think the time has come when I see that I am now 39 years old,” he told Danish website BT. “I have not even looked into the possibility of a contract for next year. It is clear that there are major changes in the team and I could risk being among those who are not offered a contract.”
Sørensen joined the team in 2001 when it was known as CSC-Tiscali, and under the management of fellow Dane Bjarne Riis. However, Riis handed over the reigns to his sponsor Oleg Tinkov in December of last year. Tinkov has been on a signing spree this August, extending contracts with the likes of Rafal Majka and Michael Rogers, and taking on new riders Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso.
With the roster filling up, Sørensen was heavily aware that he could be shown the door. “That I wasn’t selected for a single Grand Tour this year was the writing on the wall. I would like to end at a certain level and not be dropped from races because they don’t think I’m strong enough.
“Another thing is that being a professional cyclist is a dangerous job. This season I've had two crashes in which I smashed the helmet totally, and it sets up thoughts. I do not want to get so seriously injured that it affects my life after career.”
At 39, Sørensen is one of the oldest and most experienced riders in the peloton. He turned professional in 1999 with Chicky World and spent the following season with Fakta before joining Riis at CSC. During his 16 seasons, Sørensen has won the Danish national road race title on four occasions, and taken stage wins at the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France. His last victory came at the 2012 edition of Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli.
With a wealth of experience to dip into, Sørensen is considering staying in cycling in some way, but that isn’t a certainty. “I’m talking to Bjarne about joining the team in some role. That I need to start a new chapter in my life is a certainty, but it is not something I take lightly. It is a big challenge, but my wife Helle will back me up as she has done my whole career. I wouldn’t have carried on as long without her.”
Sørensen will ride the GP Ouest France-Plouay this weekend, before heading off to Canada to ride the GPs Québec and Montréal.