Two-time French road race champion Arthur Vichot (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) has announced his retirement from professional cycling at the age of 32, saying that it was "finally time to turn the page" after 11 seasons in the pro peloton.
He last raced on the opening stage of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes in February, but has been unable to shake off an unidentified virus that has left him fatigued and unable to train and race at the level he would like to over the past two seasons.
"After 11 years in the professional peloton, it's finally time for me to turn the page," Vichot wrote in a social media post on Thursday.
"I'll be hanging up my bike with only happy memories, of meetings and exceptional emotions, that will stay with me forever," he said.
"I feel privileged, and want to thank cycling, and sport in general, very much, as well as all the caring and positive people who have allowed me to become the athlete and the man that I am."
Many Australian cycling fans will remember Vichot from the 2010 Tour Down Under in Adelaide, when the unsuspecting Frenchman became the subject of nothing less than fervent spectator support. He was randomly picked by members of the Port Adelaide Cycling Club from among the non-English-speaking riders taking part in the race for the first time to have a fanclub created in his honour.
He then enjoyed an unprecedented level of support, with fans wearing 'Allez Vichot Allez' t-shirts and painting his name on the roads – more support than Lance Armstrong, the then 21-year-old Vichot remarked at the time, with the American having taken part in the Australian stage race that year.
The 2010 season was Vichot's first as a professional, and he'd go on to take 14 wins during his career, including a stage at Paris-Corrèze in that first season. The first of two road race national champion titles came in 2013, and the following spring he won a stage at Paris-Nice, clad in the blue, white and red Tricolore jersey.
He won his second national title in 2016, and as recently as 2018, Vichot won a stage and the overall at the Tour de l'Ain.
From his pro debut in 2010, Vichot rode for the Française des Jeux team until the end of the 2018 season, before dropping to Pro Continental level with his current B&B Hotels-Vital Concept team for the 2019 season.
"Now, a 'new life' awaits, with other projects and other goals," he said, "and I wish all my future ex-teammates all the best."
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