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Gallery: Vinokourov, Hincapie and McEwen lead retirements in 2012

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Alexander Vinokourov (Casino) leads Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France

Alexander Vinokourov (Casino) leads Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France
(Image credit: AFP)
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Mauricio Soler during his Baroworld days

Mauricio Soler during his Baroworld days
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vinokourov follows Kloden and Ullrich onto the podium (silver) in the Sydney Olympic road race in 2000

Vinokourov follows Kloden and Ullrich onto the podium (silver) in the Sydney Olympic road race in 2000
(Image credit: AFP)
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Jeremy Hunt (BigMat) wining Plouay, this biggest race win of his careeer

Jeremy Hunt (BigMat) wining Plouay, this biggest race win of his careeer
(Image credit: AFP)
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An emotional Alexander Vinokourov on the podium. A race he won and decidated to Andrei Kivilev who died earlier in the race in 2003

An emotional Alexander Vinokourov on the podium. A race he won and decidated to Andrei Kivilev who died earlier in the race in 2003
(Image credit: AFP)
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Alexander Vinokourov after his team is removed from the 2006 Tour de France due to links with the Puerto case

Alexander Vinokourov after his team is removed from the 2006 Tour de France due to links with the Puerto case
(Image credit: AFP)
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Vinokourov attacking Armstrong and Ullrich during the Tour de France in 2003. He went on to finish third overall

Vinokourov attacking Armstrong and Ullrich during the Tour de France in 2003. He went on to finish third overall
(Image credit: AFP)
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Alexander Vinokourov winning in Paris during the 2005 Tour de France

Alexander Vinokourov winning in Paris during the 2005 Tour de France
(Image credit: AFP)
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His Casino days marked Alexander Vinokourov as a rider for the future

His Casino days marked Alexander Vinokourov as a rider for the future
(Image credit: AFP)
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Alexander Vinokourov (Casino) winning a stage of the Dauphine in 1999

Alexander Vinokourov (Casino) winning a stage of the Dauphine in 1999
(Image credit: AFP)
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Alexander Vinokourov (Casino) was too hot to handle and took yellow from Jonathan Vaughters in the 1999 Dauphine

Alexander Vinokourov (Casino) was too hot to handle and took yellow from Jonathan Vaughters in the 1999 Dauphine
(Image credit: AFP)
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Fading light: Hincapie ended his long career with BMC

Fading light: Hincapie ended his long career with BMC
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robbie McEwen's long career ended at Orica-GreenEdge but he swapped the bike for the team car

Robbie McEwen's long career ended at Orica-GreenEdge but he swapped the bike for the team car
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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George Hincapie's (BMC) final win came on US soil

George Hincapie's (BMC) final win came on US soil
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alexandre Vinokourov crashed out of the 2011 Tour de France and his career looked finished. He came back to win the Olympic road race in 2012

Alexandre Vinokourov crashed out of the 2011 Tour de France and his career looked finished. He came back to win the Olympic road race in 2012
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mauricio Soler in yellow at the Tour de Suisse

Mauricio Soler in yellow at the Tour de Suisse
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) on the attack

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) on the attack
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) on the podium in the 2011 Dauphine.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) on the podium in the 2011 Dauphine.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Jeremy Hunt rode for a number of teams throughout Europe but retired after two years with Team Sky

Jeremy Hunt rode for a number of teams throughout Europe but retired after two years with Team Sky
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robbie McEwen riding with his old sprint rival Mario Cipollini

Robbie McEwen riding with his old sprint rival Mario Cipollini
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robbie McEwen shares a laugh with Lance Armstrong at the Tour Down Under

Robbie McEwen shares a laugh with Lance Armstrong at the Tour Down Under
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Jeremy Hunt formed part of GB's three man team at the Geelong Worlds in 2010

Jeremy Hunt formed part of GB's three man team at the Geelong Worlds in 2010
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robbie McEwen's Katusha career was hampered by injuries

Robbie McEwen's Katusha career was hampered by injuries
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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National treasure: Hincapie with his last national road title

National treasure: Hincapie with his last national road title
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) in pink at the 2010 Giro d'Italia

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) in pink at the 2010 Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) leads Cadel Evans (BMC) during an epic stage at the Giro d'Italia in 2010

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) leads Cadel Evans (BMC) during an epic stage at the Giro d'Italia in 2010
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) won Liege Bastogne Liege in 2010

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) won Liege Bastogne Liege in 2010
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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George Hincapie (HTC) missed out on the yellow jersey at the Tour after Garmin chased him down

George Hincapie (HTC) missed out on the yellow jersey at the Tour after Garmin chased him down
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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George Hincapie was by Armstrong's side until he testified in the USADA case

George Hincapie was by Armstrong's side until he testified in the USADA case
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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David Millar and George Hincapie share a joke in 2006 at the Dauphine

David Millar and George Hincapie share a joke in 2006 at the Dauphine
(Image credit: AFP)
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Digging in at Paris-Roubaix would lead to top ten placings but Hincapie was never able to reach the top step

Digging in at Paris-Roubaix would lead to top ten placings but Hincapie was never able to reach the top step
(Image credit: AFP)
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Victor Hugo Pena is in yellow with Hincapie by his side

Victor Hugo Pena is in yellow with Hincapie by his side
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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George Hincapie riding his final Paris-Roubaix in 2012

George Hincapie riding his final Paris-Roubaix in 2012
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Riding for Motorola in the 1990s saw Hincapie develop his Classic ambitions

Riding for Motorola in the 1990s saw Hincapie develop his Classic ambitions
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Smokey the Bear pays his respects to George Hincapie in Golden, Colorado prior to the BMC American's last road race in the professional peloton.

Smokey the Bear pays his respects to George Hincapie in Golden, Colorado prior to the BMC American's last road race in the professional peloton.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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George Hincapie (BMC) speaks with the press before the start of stage 5 in Rouen.

George Hincapie (BMC) speaks with the press before the start of stage 5 in Rouen.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Aboard the team bus before stage start, George Hincapie and Simon Zahner listen to Mike Sayers lay out the day’s course and plans. Zahner would later get caught in the early-stage crash.

Aboard the team bus before stage start, George Hincapie and Simon Zahner listen to Mike Sayers lay out the day’s course and plans. Zahner would later get caught in the early-stage crash.
(Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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A smiling Robbie McEwen during the 2008 season

A smiling Robbie McEwen during the 2008 season
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Aussie Robbie McEwen won 12 Giro d'Italia stages during his career.

Aussie Robbie McEwen won 12 Giro d'Italia stages during his career.
(Image credit: AFP)
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2006 and Robbie McEwen is following Floyd Landis

2006 and Robbie McEwen is following Floyd Landis
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Still got it. Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) sprints to win stage one of the Tour de Wallonie Picarde.

Still got it. Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) sprints to win stage one of the Tour de Wallonie Picarde.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Two Aussies, Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) and Robbie McEwen (Orica GreenEdge)

Two Aussies, Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) and Robbie McEwen (Orica GreenEdge)
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich)
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Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge) picks up the winner's check for $12,500

Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge) picks up the winner's check for $12,500
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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2012 Olympic road race champion Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan)

2012 Olympic road race champion Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Rigoberto Uran (Colombia), Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) and Alexander Kristoff (Norway) were the top three at London 2012.

Rigoberto Uran (Colombia), Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) and Alexander Kristoff (Norway) were the top three at London 2012.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Five years after his first win Alexandre Vinokourov came back to win in 2010

Five years after his first win Alexandre Vinokourov came back to win in 2010
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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An emotional Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) celebrates his Liège - Bastogne - Liège win.

An emotional Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) celebrates his Liège - Bastogne - Liège win.
(Image credit: Steve Dennis)
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Race leader Alexandre Vinokourov holds his position in the line of Astana jerseys

Race leader Alexandre Vinokourov holds his position in the line of Astana jerseys
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Grischa Niermann

Grischa Niermann
(Image credit: Xander van Ommen Photography)
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Grischa Niermann looks like he wishes he'd worn a wetsuit.

Grischa Niermann looks like he wishes he'd worn a wetsuit.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Rabobank's Robert Gesink (R) crosses the finish line with teammate Grischa Niermann nearly ten minutes after the peloton's arrival.

Rabobank's Robert Gesink (R) crosses the finish line with teammate Grischa Niermann nearly ten minutes after the peloton's arrival.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Pocket rocket Robbie McEwen.

Pocket rocket Robbie McEwen.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge) at the start of the stage

Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge) at the start of the stage
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Jez Hunt (Team Sky) was always near the front of the bunch to discourage the attacking moves

Jez Hunt (Team Sky) was always near the front of the bunch to discourage the attacking moves
(Image credit: Gerry McManus/www.splitsecondimages.co.uk)
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Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt
(Image credit: Team Sky)
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Two-time British champion Jeremy Hunt (Cervélo TestTeam) riding for Unibet in 2008

Two-time British champion Jeremy Hunt (Cervélo TestTeam) riding for Unibet in 2008
(Image credit: Gerry McManus)
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Cool customer: Great Britain's Jeremy Hunt (Credit Agricole)

Cool customer: Great Britain's Jeremy Hunt (Credit Agricole)
(Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Movistar's Mauricio Soler celebrates his stage victory on Crans-Montana

Movistar's Mauricio Soler celebrates his stage victory on Crans-Montana
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Juan Mauricio Soler (Movistar Team) looks back to his best

Juan Mauricio Soler (Movistar Team) looks back to his best
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Astana's Alexander Vinokourov feels the pinch on stage 13 of the 2012 Tour de France

Astana's Alexander Vinokourov feels the pinch on stage 13 of the 2012 Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vinokourov attacks during the 50-lap race

Vinokourov attacks during the 50-lap race
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Alexandre Vinokourov

Alexandre Vinokourov
(Image credit: Astana)
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Alexandre Vinokourov wins in Chihuahua

Alexandre Vinokourov wins in Chihuahua
(Image credit: Gilberto Gonzalez)
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Stsge winner George Hincapie (BMC) enjoys his success

Stsge winner George Hincapie (BMC) enjoys his success
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Defending champion George Hincapie (BMC) returns to Greenville hoping to add a fourth road title to his palmares.

Defending champion George Hincapie (BMC) returns to Greenville hoping to add a fourth road title to his palmares.
(Image credit: Sirotti)

The end of the year always brings a number of retirements, and the list this year features both major stars and treasured domestiques. In the first of a two-part series, Cyclingnews takes a look at some of those who are hanging their bikes on a nail in 2012, from Olympics winner Alexandre Vinokourov to Rabobank veteran Grischa Niermann.

Vinokourov went out in a blaze of glory, winning the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympic road race in one of his trademark attacks. The Astana rider had previously announced his retirement a number of times, such as after breaking his femur in a dramatic crash at the 2011 Tour de France, and after being suspended for blood doping in 2007.

The Kazakh turned pro in 1998, and throughout his career rode for Casino-Ag2r, Telekom, Liberty Seguros-Würth, and Astana. He won the Vuelta a Espana in 2006, and had a total of four stage wins in the Spanish race, as well as an equal tally of stage wins in the Tour de France. He also won the Criterium du Dauphine Libere, Paris-Nice (twice), Tour de Suisse and Deutschland Tour.  Perhaps his biggest successes were in one-day races, winning not only the Olympic road race, but also Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (twice).

George Hincapie's retirement was surely not the way he had planned, as he goes out with a six-month suspension for past doping. He, too, has a long career behind him, as he turned pro with Motorola in 1994, followed by stints at USPS, Highroad and BMC. After having his palmares trimmed by the USADA, he comes up with top wins of a team time trial stage win at the Tour de France in 2002, the overall title in the Tour of Missouri, Gent-Wevelgem in 2001, and three national road titles.

Hincapie announced in June that he would retire, and did so after the US Pro Challenge in August. He did so knowing what was upcoming: he was named in the USADA's action against Lance Armstrong, and confessed to having used doping products during the early part of his career. Hincapie said that he had ridden clean since 2006.

Mauricio Soler's retirement was an acknowledgement that injuries suffered in a crash at the 2011 Tour de Suisse were not to be overcome. The Colombian, riding for Movistar Team, suffered serious head injuries in the crash. He rode professionally from 2006 to 2011, with his major successes being a stage win and the King of the Mountains jersey at the 2007 Tour de France.

Robbie McEwen, the Australian “pocket rocket”, changed over from a rider with Orica-GreenEdge to the team's technical advisor in May, after the Amgen Tour of California. He racked up countless sprint victories in his 17-year career, riding along the way for Rabobank, Domo-Farm Frites, Lotto-Adecco, Katusha, RadioShack and GreenEdge.

He would claim three green jerseys at the Tour de France, and 12 stages, winning an equal number of stages at the Giro d'Italia. Other major wins include two stages at Paris-Nice, 12 stages at the Tour Down Under, five victories in Paris-Brussels (including four consecutive wins from 2005 to 2008), Vattenfalls Cyclassic, Dwars door Vlaanderen and two national road titles.

Grischa Niermann may not be as well-known to the public as many of the other retirees, but he was highly regarded by his team and within the peloton. The German joined Dutch team Rabobank in 2000, and rode the Tour de France nine times, the Giro d'Italia four times and the Vuelta a Espana five times. He never won much but was a hard-working team member.

Jeremy Hunt retired from Team Sky at the end of the season, after a career spanning 17 years and eight teams. His 43 wins include two national road titles and the GP Ouest France – Plouay.  Along the way he moved from being a sprinter to help set up sprints, and was part of the British team which delivered Mark Cavendish to the road Worlds title in 2011.