With another road season in the books it's time to look back at the riders who called it a career in 2013.
The year kicked off with Nicole Cooke announcing her immediate retirement from cycling in January. In her farewell press conference the 29-year-old spoke of winning "every race and more that I dreamt I could win" and looking back at her career that's indeed the case. In 2008 Cooke achieved arguably her greatest accomplishment as she became the only cyclist to win both Olympic gold and the rainbow jersey in the same year on the road but she was a prolific winner throughout her years who could win both stage races and one-day events on any terrain.
Cooke was a three time La Flèche Wallonne Féminine winner (2003, 2005, 2006), a champion at Amstel Gold (2003) and Tour of Flanders (2007), and won the overall World Cup twice (2003, 2006). She twice won the Grande Boucle Tour de France Feminine stage race (2006-2007) and claimed victory in the Giro d'Italia Femminile (2004) as well. Cooke was also a 10-time British national champion and the 2002 Commonwealth Games road race champion.
While Cooke was justifiably proud of her cycling career, she also utilised her farewell press conference as a means to speak out regarding what she saw as the UCI's failure to commit to developing women's cycling during here 11-year professional career.
In May Russia's Denis Menchov announced his retirement with immediate effect after a knee injury kept him out of the Giro d'Italia. The 35-year-old left the peloton with three Grand Tour victories in his palmares (Vuelta a Espana in 2005, 2007 plus the 2009 Giro d'Italia). He twice finished on the Tour de France podium and won stages in all three Grand Tours. Menchov won the Tour's best young rider classification in 2003 and also won the Tour of the Basque country in 2004 during his 15-year pro career.
His last significant win came on stage 20 of the Vuelta last year when he won atop Bola del Mondo. As well as riding for Banesto, Menchov also turned out for Rabobank, Geox TMC and Katusha. While Menchov was never charged with doping offences throughout his career, he was called to Vienna, Austria in 2009 to answer questions in relation to the "Human Plasma" case and was part of leaked document, their "Index of Suspicion", put together by the UCI.
Stuart O'Grady retired from the pro peloton the day after finishing the Tour de France, bringing to a conclusion a career stretching back to 1995. During the 1998 season he won a stage in the Tour and wore the maillot jaune for three days. O'Grady's Tour success continued in 2001 when he wore the yellow jersey for six stages and was part of the winning team time trial squad with Crédit Agricole.
O'Grady won Paris-Roubaix in 2007 plus had a pedigree on the track, too, as he earned the gold-medal in the Madison with Graeme Brown at the 2004 Olympic Games. However, he also had a bad history of crashes, the worst of which came in the 2007 Tour, when he fractured three vertebrae, among other bones.
O'Grady, 39, retired under a cloud of doping as he confessed to taking EPO prior to the 1998 Tour. He was expected to compete into the 2014 season but retired instead just days before a report by the French Senate revealed that he had returned a suspicious sample during the 1998 Tour.
Sandy Casar, 34, called it quits this year after spending his entire career, 2000-2013 with the FDJ squad. Frequently on the attack, the Frenchman won three Tour de France stages (2007, 2009, 2010), the overall at Route du Sud (2005) and the Paris-Camembert one-day race (2011). In 2006 he finished 6th overall at the Giro d'Italia.
A surprise retirement in 2013 came courtesy of 25-year-old Canadian David Veilleux. After starting his professional career on US-based Continental teams, Veilleux then spent 2011-2013 with the French Europcar squad. 2013 was his best year in the pro peloton as he won the opening stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné and held the yellow jersey until stage 4. He finished his debut Tour de France and then completed his career in September on home soil at the WorldTour races in Quebec and Montreal. Veilleux had been working on his engineering degree and opted to end his career to resume his studies full-time.
Robbie Hunter wrapped up a 15-year professional career in 2013 with a Tour de France stage win (2007), plus two stage victories in the Vuelta a Espana (1999, 2001) among the highlights of his palmares. Hunter is the first South African rider to complete and win a stage at the Tour de France. He won the 2004 Tour of Qatar, the points classification at the Tour de Suisse, and won his national road title in 2012.
Juan Antonio Flecha completed a 14-year professional career highlighted by a Tour de France stage victory in 2003 (where he famously pantomimed the release of an arrow as he crossed the line) plus a solo win at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Flecha began his career on Spanish teams but with his preference for the Classics he found a better home at Rabobank where he competed in 2006-2009. He moved to Sky in 2010 and rode his final year in the peloton this year for Vacansoleil-DCM.
Unlike most of his fellow Spaniards, Flecha had a predilection for the spring Classics and during his career he notched podium finishes at Paris-Roubaix (2005, 2007, 2010), Tour of Flanders (2008), Gent-Wevelgem (2005), Brabantse Pijl (2008), and was stood on the podium four additional times at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in addition to his victory.
Italy's Marco Pinotti spent 15 years in the professional peloton in a career in which he won 28 races, the majority of which were against the clock. Pinotti won his national time trial title six times and used his prowess in the race of truth to claim victory in two Giro d'Italia individual time trial stages (2008, 2012). Pinotti was also part of two team time trial victories at the Giro (2009, 2011), the former which resulted in the Italian spending a day in the maglia rosa. At the 2007 Giro Pinotti also spent four days in the maglia rosa.
Pinotti will still remain within the sport at its highest level as he transitions to a role with the coaching staff at BMC, the WorldTour squad at which he spent the final two years of his career.
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg brought her lengthy career to a conclusion in 2013, but unfortunately for the German an injury was what ultimately forced her to bow out. The 38-year-old suffered a concussion in early March at the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo and was unable to return to racing. In mid-October Teutenberg decided to retire.
Teutenberg won over 200 races during her stint in the peloton with her last major success the gold medal earned at the 2012 road world championship where she was part of the Specialized-lululemon squad which won the inaugural world title in the discipline.
Highlights of her career include 21 stage wins at the Tour de l’Aude, six stage wins at the Route de France, 11 stage wins of the Giro d’Italia Femminile, five Liberty Classic titles and a win in the women’s edition of the Tour of Flanders (2009). She represented Germany at the 2000 and 2012 Olympic Games.
Two other Germans hung up their wheels at the end of the 2013 season: Andreas Klöden and Bert Grabsch. Klöden was a stage racing stalwart who began his career in the late 1990s. Twice a podium finisher at the Tour de France, Klöden's biggest victories included the overall at Paris-Nice (2000), Tour of the Basque Country (2000, 2011), Tirreno-Adriatico (2007) and Tour de Romandie (2008).
He began his career on Team Telekom, later T-Mobile, and remained there through 2006. Klöden moved to Astana in 2007 then transferred to RadioShack in 2010 where he remained for his final four years in the pro peloton. While Klöden never tested positive in his career he was named in the Freiburg investigation regarding the transfusion of his own blood during the 2006 Tour de France.
Bert Grabsch was a noted time trialist whose biggest victory was the 2008 individual time trial world championship. Noted for turning massive gears via his powerful physique, Grabsch was a four-time German national time trial champion and won a time trial stage at the 2008 Vuelta a Espana.
Michael Creed swapped the saddle for the comfort of the seat of team car mid-way through 2013. The American pro had been publicly clear on his stance towards doping in the sport and rode for a number of teams including US Postal, Rock Racing, TIAA – CREF and Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies. Along with directing he now runs an online podcast in which he regularly interviews personalities from the sport.
Christian Vande Velde described his career as one with "some insane highs and some really low lows". He embarked on his professional road career in 1998 with the US Postal Service Team where he spent the first six years of his career. Vande Velde spent 2004 on Liberty Seguros, 2005 through 2007 with Team CSC and then moved to the Garmin organisation, run by former teammate Jonathan Vaughters, in 2008. He spent the final six years of his career on the US squad.
Vande Velde contested 22 Grand Tours in his career, with multiple starts in Italy, France and Spain. He twice finished top-10 in the Tour de France, with 4th overall in 2008 his best result. While at Garmin, Vande Velde has been a part of three team time trial victories in Grand Tours, highlighted by a win in the first stage of the 2008 Giro d'Italia which put him into the maglia rosa. Vande Velde is a two-time Olympian and has the following stage race victories in his palmares: 2012 USA Pro Challenge, 2008 Tour of Missouri and 2006 Tour of Luxembourg.
Vande Velde provided testimony against former teammate Lance Armstrong as part of USADA's Reasoned Decision published in October, 2012. Vande Velde confessed to doping while with the US Postal squad, Liberty Seguros and Team CSC and served a six-month suspension from September, 2012 through March, 2013.
Vande Velde's teammate David Zabriskie also called it a career in 2013, quietly slipping away from the professional peloton following Il Lombardia in early October and bringing to a close a 15-year career. The 34-year-old American spent the final six years of his career in Jonathan Vaughters' Slipstream organisation following stints at Nutra Fig, Seven Up-Colorado Cyclist, US Postal and Team CSC.
Zabriskie won seven US time trial titles and famously became the first American to win stages in all three Grand Tours, which also included a stint in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. However his subsequent confession to doping as part of the USADA's investigation into doping at the US Postal Service team led to all of his results from May 13, 2003 to July 31, 2006 being erased, including one time trial title and his three individual Grand Tour stage victories. He also served a six-month ban between September, 2012 and March 2013.
Zabriskie won the 2009 Tour of Missouri and placed second overall on three occasions at the Tour of California (2009, 2010, 2012). He was part of the Garmin organisation's team time trial victories at the Giro d'Italia (2008) and Tour de France (2011) and earned silver (2006) and bronze (2008) at the time trial world championships.
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