Johann Tschopp (IAM Cycling) has announced his retirement from road cycling but will not be hanging up his wheels completely just yet as the Swiss rider has decided to return to racing mountain bikes in 2015. Tschopp won the 2004 Swiss national marathon mountain bike championships before turning pro on the road in the same year.
"Today, and after careful consideration, I have decided to live the dream for the 2015 season," Tschopp said. "With the help of Michel Thétaz and IAM Funds, I will take on a new challenge and devote myself to marathon mountain biking events. I will continue to be a part of the IAM family."
Tschopp started his career with Phonak Hearing Systems ten years ago before moving onto Bouygues Telecom and then BMC Racing Team before joining IAM Cycling last year.
"I am convinced that this is the right time," he said of his decision to switch disciplines. "The road has brought me beautiful moments since I started as a pro in 2004. And I further illustrated that this year by winning the best climber's jersey at the Tour de Romandie. I finished fourth place in the difficult seveth stage of the Vuelta a Espana which went from Alhendin to Alcaudete. But it was also clear to me that I did not want to do another season. So I decided to make a change in disciplines and race a mountain bike from next spring.
"This change has happened naturally. I have loved mountain biking for a long time and it fits my character perfectly. I love nature and this will allow me always to be in the middle of it."
The 32-year-old's highlights on the road include a stage win and overall victory at the 2012 edition of the Tour of Utah along with a stage win at the 2010 Giro d'Italia. Tschopp also finished inside the top-15 at the Giro in 2011 and 2012.
Tschopp added that his characteristics and previous experience mountain biking, as well as his location, all bode well for his change of direction.
"Marathon mountain biking has the advantage of being a very good match for my own strengths," he said. "You must manage your efforts, especially over a long distance and with steep gradients. It is therefore quite close to road racing. And the importance of the technical aspect motivates me a lot.
"It will be even more important to me in view of the work I do in my bike shop in Sion. In this way, I will be at the forefront in terms of technical and mechanical knowledge for my clients."
Tschopp's racing schedule for 2015 will be announced in March.