Early retirement for Salmon and Pfingsten after fruitless contract search

Martin Salmon (Team DSM) competes during the 11th Primus Classic 2021
Martin Salmon (Team DSM) competes during the 11th Primus Classic 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Two WorldTour riders, Martin Salmon and Christoph Pfingsten, have called an early end to their careers after finding themselves without a team for 2022.

The German pair did not have their contracts renewed at Team DSM and Jumbo-Visma, respectively, and were unable to find satisfactory options elsewhere. 

Salmon has taken the decision to retire at the age of just 24 and after just two seasons in the professional peloton. The climber came through DSM's development system before graduating to the WorldTour squad in 2020. He rode the Vuelta a España in a pandemic-hit debut season but struggled to make much of an impact in 2021. 

After the new year signalled the official end of his time at DSM, Salmon announced his decision to walk away from the sport at the weekend. 

"As far as I know 'biker' was one of my first words. The pant wetting excitement of standing beside a bike race has remained unchanged for the past 24 years," he said. 

"The joy of propelling yourself forward on two wheels equally, though the ecstasy of a finish line might have clouded that joy with ambition. I have been privileged to call this simple act of motion my profession and I now resign myself to the title of a has been."

The same fate has befallen Pfingsten, although he is 10 years Salmon's senior. The all-rounder, who started out in cyclo-cross, has ridden as a domestique at Jumbo-Visma for the past two seasons, prior to which he spent five years at Bora-Hansgrohe. 

Although he expressed disappointment at being forced to hang up his wheels earlier than expected, Pfingsten looked back fondly on his career in a retirement announcement, picking out his German 'cross title from 2012 and his fourth place on a stage of the 2018 Giro d'Italia as highlights. 

"Today is the day that almost all competitive athletes fear. Because then it's time to say goodbye. After 25 years of competitive sport, an end has come, which I will have with one laughing and one crying eye," he said.

"Weeping because I didn't really want to quit, but unfortunately no new contract was concluded due to various factors. A laughing one, because I can look back on some great moments.

"First and foremost, I would like to thank my wife Gini in particular, who has been by my side for years, but also my entire family, relatives, acquaintances, companions, sponsors and anyone I have forgotten to say THANK YOU for all of you having a share that I have been able to practice this sport for so many years. I was allowed to travel to countries that I would probably never have seen in 'normal' life, I was allowed to get to know special people all over the world and I was able to experience great impressions of food and drink."

Pfingsten hinted that, while his racing days are over, he could remain involved in cycling in the next chapter of his career.

"My father always says: if one door closes, another will open. And who knows where I'm going," he said. 

"Maybe I will stay with the sport in some way. Until then, I wish you all a happy new year, stay tuned to see what I'll be posting here soon."

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Patrick Fletcher
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.