Two-time world champion Susanne Ljungskog has decided to call an end to her cycling career after a blood condition made it difficult for her to return to her top form.
The seven-time Swedish champion suffers from hemachromatosis, an excess of iron, which is treated by regular withdrawals of blood.
Ljungskog underwent therapy to reduce her iron levels, but has found the treatment incompatible with training for top-level competition.
"The iron levels rise way too fast and I get very fatigued, and if I take care of it by giving blood, I lose a month or two of training and therefore cannot achieve at the highest level. It's a catch-22, and if I cannot be up there I'd rather say good-bye," Ljunkgskog said on her website.
Ljungskog, 34, is a four-time Olympian who won the world road race championship in 2002 and 2003. The winner of four career World Cup races, Ljungskog transformed herself into a formidable stage racer, netting two overall wins in the Giro della Toscana, the Holland Ladies Tour and the Tour de l'Aude.