Santiago Botero has announced his retirement from professional cycling at a press conference in Medellin. The Colombian had been riding for the Orgullo Paisa team in his home country since last season.
“I think I’ve reached the end of a cycle. I’m about to turn 38 and I’m not able to give as much of myself on the bike as I used to be,” Botero said. “When you start to have doubts or lack of conviction is time to depart and be honest with the team and fans.”
Botero suffered a bout of dengue fever last year, and cited the effects of this health problem as one of the main reasons behind his decision.
“After having suffered with dengue fever, I began preparing for the Tour of Colombia in October but already that required a huge effort,” Botero explained. Although he continued to race this season, he was already pondering his future.
“I’ve decided not to battle with my health anymore and to retire now with the gold medal from the South American Games in Medellin.” Botero won the time-trial event at the games held in his hometown in March.
In his career in Europe, Botero competed for Kelme, T-Mobile and Phonak. He also rode for the Rock Racing outfit in 2008.
Botero was King of the Mountains at the 2000 Tour de France, winning the stage into Briancon. His best season came in 2002, when he finished 4th at the Tour and won two stages, including a surprise victory over Lance Armstrong in the first long time-trial of the race. He ended the season with the rainbow jersey at the World Championships Time-Trial at Zolder.
Thereafter, Botero’s career was blighted by inconsistency and controversy. He had already twice tested positive for excessive quantities of testosterone in 1999 and 2002, and in 2006, he was prevented from starting the Tour de France as a result of his implication in Operacion Puerto. In 2008, the UCI requested that Colombia not select Botero for the Beijing Olympics due to this involvement in Operacion Puerto, but he was nonetheless named in the team and finished in 7th place.