Dominik Nerz, the German rider who announced his retirement from cycling last month at the tender age of 27, has opened up about his decision, revealing that he has suffered with dizziness and headaches resulting from a string of head-impact crashes.
"It is hard for me, but I have to quit my career by the end of 2016 for health reasons," said Nerz last month in a statement from the Bora-Argon 18 team. "It’s really a tough call, and to say goodbye to the pro scene won’t be easy for me, but after several medical investigations there is no other option."
An air of mystery surrounded those quotes but now, in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Nerz has revealed that he regularly suffers from headaches and feelings of dizziness and disorientation. Hanging up his wheels was the sensible - if painful - decision.
Nerz says he hit his head on six or seven occasions over the course of the 2015 season, the worst of which came at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he ran into a wall in an unlit tunnel.
He chose to ignore the possible consequences and turned up at the Tour de France the following month with the ambition of becoming the first German to finish in the top 10 since Andreas Kloden in 2009. He hit his head twice more in crashes at the Tour, though his withdrawal from the race on stage 11 was due to stomach problems.
"I should have listened to my inner signals much more often and I should never have started the Tour," Nerz acknowledged to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "It is difficult to draw boundaries because we always want to perform and constantly put pressure on ourselves."
After numerous medical examinations this year, Nerz heeded the doctors' advice and called time on his seven-year career, which started at Milram and included two-year stints at Liquigas, BMC, and Bora.
"It will take more than a year before I am fully recovered," he added.