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Albasini prolongs career so he can retire on the road

Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-Scott) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Michael Albasini has decided to prolong his racing career until the end of the reformatted season by postponing a retirement that should have coincided with June’s edition of the Tour de Suisse. 

The Mitchelton-Scott veteran was meant set to hang up his wheels after  his 16th participation in his home race, but with the event cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swiss rider has come to an agreement with his team to race until the end of the year. Albasini is still planning on riding this year’s original Tour de Suisse route as he looks to pay homage to a race in which he has enjoyed huge success over the years.

“I still want to finish my career with a number on my back, so I will continue after summer when the season restarts,” Albasini said in a message sent to Cyclingnews by his Mitchelton-Scott team. 

“There was a step-by-step process to get to this point. When it first started to happen I thought that was it, that it wasn’t nice, but it was going to be how my career finished and it is how it is. Then I started realising that everything couldn’t happen – I couldn’t finish my career in Switzerland, I couldn’t have the holiday and it wouldn’t make sense to have a half a year doing nothing.

“I also had to get the motivation back, because it was a whole preparation for nothing and I have to do this again now. That was something I struggled at first to think about and it took me a while to get through it.  Now, I am motivated to do all the preparation again so I can at least have one of the things I planned at the start of the year.”

Albasini clearly didn’t want to retire with an e-race bringing down the curtain on his career. The 39-year-old, who has won three stages at the Tour de Suisse since his career began in 2003 with Phonak, wanted to stop racing in the environment of a real racing team and not with the click of a mouse or through an online avatar.

“First of all, I just want to have the chance to enjoy my last races, knowing they are my last races. I want to enjoy the company and the feeling of being in the race and to have these memories from my last races that I can keep with me, if not, I have even forgotten the name of the last race I had,” he said.

“I really looked forward to racing this season; to make all the training camps and all of the other things around race like the feeling when you come from the massage, or when you go to dinner and talk with the boys at the table. I just want to really enjoy it the last times and now I have the possibility to still do it.”

Riding the route of this year’s Tour de Suisse on his own, but with his family following behind, will give Albasini a chance to train for the resumption of racing in August and September and pay some respect to his home race.

“It’s going to be a really nice time to have six or seven hours a day to be out there talking. If you’re in a race you have less time to enjoy, so this way I can really enjoy it with a lot of people who have been part of my career.”

The Swiss rider has yet to finalise his race programme for the remainder of the season, and it very much depends on whether the UCI can guarantee that racing can resume in a safe environment but Mitchelton-Scott directeur sportif Matt White is glad that he can count on his veteran all-rounder.

“Alba has been a foundation member of the GreenEdge family. He still offers so much to our organisation on and off the bike and he epitomises what we want from our athletes in commitment, character and respect,” White said.

“It's great to give Alba a chance to finish off the season with some world-class races in an area where he has had an incredible amount of success over the years.”