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Emma Johansson: If I didn’t have unfinished business with the Olympics, I would have stopped

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Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5)

Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) (Image credit: Wiggle High5)
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Emma Johansson (Sweden) leading up a climb

Emma Johansson (Sweden) leading up a climb (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Emma Johansson (Sweden)

Emma Johansson (Sweden) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Emma Johansson with the overall trophy for Lotto Belgium Tour

Emma Johansson with the overall trophy for Lotto Belgium Tour (Image credit: Sean Robinson/Velofocus)
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Emma Johansson enjoys the cobbles of the Kapelmuur

Emma Johansson enjoys the cobbles of the Kapelmuur (Image credit: Sean Robinson/Velofocus)

Gradual retirements seem increasingly fashionable in cycling. Bradley Wiggins, for instance, has already had more farewell gigs than Frank Sinatra, Cadel Evans enjoyed a lingering goodbye on home roads, and rumours abound that Alberto Contador will wind his career down next year with a stint riding for his own development team.

Emma Johansson, as one of the most consistently successful female riders of the past decade, has surely earned the right to call time on her career on her own terms, and so while 2016 will be the Swede’s final season at the very highest level, she will continue to race in Wiggle-High5 colours into 2017.

Quite what her programme next year will entail remains a closely guarded secret for the time being. “I have a contract for 2017, as everybody knows, but that’s going to be a year where I do a bit of other things,” Johansson told Cyclingnews at the Ladies Tour of Qatar.

“I don’t know want to say anything else, because I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just know that I want to focus 100 percent on now. I’m just having 2017 as a year where I can do different things, and more or less figure out what the future is going to look like. That makes me more relaxed. I can focus 100 percent on now and not answer so many questions about the future.”

Johansson’s here and now is all about settling into life on a new team after arriving from Orica-AIS during the off-season – “I think every team has their things, but it seems to be a good group” – a hectic Classics campaign “like always” and, of course, a tilt at that elusive gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Her final approach to Rio will include the Tour of California and the Thüringen Rundfahrt, where Johansson is chasing a third overall victory.