Lieuwe Westra has sparked confusion and concern about his future and his health with a Facebook posting, that was subsequently deleted, which said that he was retiring immediately from cycling. His team Wanty Groupe Gobert has since confirmed the retirement.
On Sunday the following message appeared on his Facebook page: “Today I have decided to stop racing. I cannot afford to continue. Thanks to A Boskamp and K Snijder! Ok I stop but go now and I have time to solve these issues briefly Thanks to cycling world ciaoooo westra”
The two individuals named are his manager and former brother-in-law. Westra is apparently caught up in a court case with both of them, concerning business interests but also has a new three-year contract with the Wanty Group team.
Monday afternoon his new Wanty Groupe Gobert team confirmed that Westra had officially retired, writing on Twitter: "We regret to announce that Lieuwe Westra puts an end to his cycling career with immediate effect. He retires after 8 years in pro cycling."
Westra, 34, is reported to suffer with depression, and first considered retirement in 2015.
“There's just too much happened in one year. My relationship broke up, I live alone in Monaco, far from home. Lots of things happen around me in races, crashes, people who are still in a coma. All those little things together, might crack me," he revealed at the time.
Respected Dutch news website Nos.nl said that Westra first told them that the Facebook post was incorrect, but shortly after, an employee of his personal website confirmed that the news was correct. Since then Nos.nl has not been able to get in touch with Westra or anyone close to him. His new team, Wanty Group, with whom he signed for 2017, would not confirm the news, saying it was surprised by the announcement and was itself trying to get in touch with Westra.
His sister-in-law made posted a brief statement on her Facebook page, saying that his next of kin respected his decision and also asking for time and space before Westra speaks about his decision. Other friends offered support and encouragement to help him overcome depression.
"Last night, Lieuwe announced that he wants to stop the bike," the message by his sister-in-law Anneke Mook reads in Dutch. "A choice that we very much regret because a talented cyclist, partly due to the fault of others, leaves the peloton. But it is also a choice that we, as his next of kin have to respect. Lieuwe first wants a couple of days rest and then wants to give an explanation. I hope that everyone will give him and us that time and space give right now."
Westra turned professional with Vacansoliel, riding there from 2009 to 2013. He joined Astana in 2014, where he won stages in Catalunya and the Dauphine, and this year took the overall win in the Three Days of De Panne. Westra was also part of the Astana team when Vincenzo Nibali won the 2014 Tour de France.