“A lot of people have been asking me ‘what are you going to do now that you are retired from professional cycling?’ and the truth is that right now I don’t know, and I think that’s okay,” Canuel wrote in a blog for Cycling Canada.
“I had my ups and downs. It was never easy,” Canuel said of a career that spanned 16 years from the junior ranks to retirement. “I remember almost quitting the sport right after finishing 5th at the World Championships as a junior. It took me a few years to shift things around and come back at a high level.”
Canuel’s career came full circle in September, with the World Championships in Flanders being her final race as a professional. She finished 31st.
“I picked this specific race to be my final one, knowing that it would be one to remember with the rich history and culture Belgium has when it comes to cycling,” she said. “When the day came, I felt in good shape and all I wanted was to feel good on the bike and not to crash.”
After initially planning to stop racing at the end of last season, Canuel delayed her retirement in order to compete in the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, a goal she had been aiming towards since Rio 2016.
Racing less in 2021 allowed Canuel to focus on her main goals of the Olympics and Worlds, but also gave her time to reflect on over a decade of professional cycling.
“The sport has allowed me to travel and to see countless corners of the world from the saddle. It has also allowed me to meet wonderful people, make life-long friendships and learn from so many different people throughout my career.
“But above all, cycling has taught me about myself. I learned a lot about who I am, as an athlete and person, and it has allowed me to grow and to learn to handle the different things life throws at me.”
In the two months since her final race, Canuel says she has been enjoying the absence of a strict training plan, taking up running and gravel riding whilst she considers her next steps.
“I want to take my time to figure it out and make sure that my next goal in life will be something that makes me happy. I want to take my time and try different things and I’m grateful to have this chance to really explore.
“Cycling has been part of my life since I was a kid and I think it will always be a part of who I am. I love training; I love being on my bike and I don’t think that is going to change.”
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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.
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