With no contract forthcoming at the end of the 2016 season, Amets Txurruka refused to give up on his career as a professional cyclist. The 35-year-old strived to keep his career going and only announced his retirement in May last year.
Txurruka has since found a new place in the professional world of cycling with Velon.
The Basque rider turned professional with Barloworld in 2006 before spending the bulk of his career with Euskaltel-Euskadi. A four stint with Caja Rural-Seguros RGA followed with his final season spent on Orica-GreenEdge. His last race was Il Lombardia where he helped Esteban Chaves to victory in the autumn of 2016.
Across the Australian summer of 2018, Chaves was one of several former teammates Txurruka was again working alongside. Albeit in his new role with Velon at the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. As an ex-rider, Txurruka provides Velon with a wealth of knowledge and contacts within the sport from his riding career. Two key components in him joining Velon as he told Cyclingnews.
"They called me because there was a guy I knew and they needed someone to work with them," said Txurruka who's first worked with Velon in June last year.
"In the beginning it was hard. I didn't know the work. They didn't know me. For me, it is much easier now because I know all the team, the mechanics and it is good that I know all guys."
Well before he joined Velon, Txurruka was one of the many riders in the peloton chosen to carry their onboard cameras during a race.
"I remember three or four years ago, the first time they come with the videos on the bikes at Tour de Suisse. It was pretty strange," he said of his first memories of Velon. "I don't remember who but one of my teammates carry the camera and the next year I carry one also. At the beginning, it is strange but then you begin to understand how it works and all the information on the television for the fans. I think it is pretty fun."
Recognising that the cycling fan is keen for the live data Velon proves, Txurruka believes it is better to leave them wanting more. And ensuring that rider data for an entire race is not made public.
"We put the data on for a few seconds then we change the rider. I don't think it is good to have all the data and information but that short moment is good," he said of how Velon chooses to display its data.
With his new line of work with Velon, Txurruka is back in contact with a number of old teammates and team staff. Despite the abrupt manner in which his career ended, it has been an easy transfer to life off the bike and back into the cycling world as Txurruka explains.
"The feeling is good. It is not so hard because I did a lot of years. I wanted to change also a little bit my life because I had a lot of years riding and racing and I want to do other things. I am happy with the decision," he said.
Before taking up the role with Velon, Txurruka added he "thought to teach children. But now I am here and happy. Maybe in the future, I can do other things."
With an 18-month old daughter at home, Txurruka isn't too keen to be travelling as much as he was when racing. Although his racing years have made it difficult to stay in one place for too long as he described.
"All the riders, if we have too much time at home, it is hard. Sometimes we need to go so I speak with Velon to do some races. But not all the season. I think we have a good agreement," he said.
While the future remains unknown, for now, Txurruka is enjoying the new project with Velon and experiencing another side to a sport that he had dedicated his life to.
"I am pretty relaxed. I like a lot of different things so I can do one or the other and we will see. I am really happy now with the Velon work and the guys I am working with. The atmosphere is good."
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