Peter Velits has announced his decision to retire from professional cycling after failing to find a team for the 2017 season. Velits had been given early warning that his contract would not be renewed with BMC Racing for next season and had spoken to a few top teams but a new deal didn't emerge.
Rather than step down a level or two, Velits made the decision to hang up his racing wheels at the age of 31. "At the beginning of last season I traded managers with my brother Martin, and they did what they could. But it did not work. I know that they were trying different options," he told TASR.
"Discussions were held but after two bad seasons, it was difficult. In terms of downgrading, I don't think I could find the necessary motivation, and it would be even worse. My closest family knows my feelings. The situation being as it is, we survived a lot as a family; we want to share the joy of success and now accept the decision simply as a fact."
Velits sprung onto the scene in 2007 when he won the under 23 road race title in Stuttgart. His performance was enough to secure himself his first professional contract with Milram. He later moved to HTC-Columbia where he showed his Grand Tour potential with second overall at the Vuelta a Espana, taking a stage win along the way.
He never quite lived up to that performance, and big results became fewer and far between as he played more of a domestique role during his time at Omega Pharma-QuickStep and BMC. He was part of QuickStep's world team time trial winning squads in in 2012 and 2013 before switching to BMC racing and helping the American squad to win their first title in 2014. He has missed out on selection in 2015 and 2016.
Velits had endured a couple of challenging seasons, marred by a leg injury. He had to undergo surgery on an artery in his left leg, due to what the team stated at the time as overuse. There was some cause for hope when he was able to wear the Vuelta a Espana’s red jersey after BMC won the opening team time trial. He subsequently secured a year's extension on his contract, and a difficult 2016 meant Velits could see the writing on the wall.
"For two years I was not feeling well. After last year's spring operations artery to the leg, I could not get to a specific level and did not get good results," he explained.
"My season started in January, and the first race block lasted until the Tour de Romandie. The team then suddenly told that it would be good for me to look for another team and I wasn't very surprised."