Michael Kolár, who finished third at the Slovakian road race national championships on Sunday, has announced his retirement from the sport.
The 25-year-old Bora-Hansgrohe rider – a compatriot and close friend of world champion and team leader Peter Sagan – will nevertheless remain with the German squad, taking on a new role in their PR and sponsorship department.
"I've worked really hard these past years, and tried everything to prepare in the most professional way for this season. However, I expected a little more, and the results haven't come. I feel now that I'm pretty much at my best level, but that this might not be enough to fulfil my own ambitions," Kolár said in a team statement.
"I had a chat with Ralph [Denk, team manager] about this, and after a few days he came back to me, offering a new opportunity," he continued. "I appreciate his attitude a lot, and I think this a great chance to start something new and finally enjoy life. When I look back, there's nothing to regret. I am proud of what I've achieved, especially Peter's second world title in Doha, which was an unforgettable memory, where I was able to play a key role in the success. Now it's time to say good-bye; the national championships was my last race as a pro."
Kolár finished third to his teammates, brothers Peter and Juraj Sagan, at the national road race, and leaves the sport having played a key role in many of Peter's successes, having ridden with Sagan at Tinkoff before making the move to Bora-Hansgrohe together for the 2017 season.
"I have great respect for Michael's decision," said Bora-Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk. "You have to have character to take such a step and to be truly honest with yourself.
"Michael talked to me a few weeks ago, telling me that he was thinking about retiring. After our chat, we thought about where we might able to find a role for him to stay with the team. The conclusion was for him to take on VIP and guest management at some races as part of our sponsorship department.
"I think that, with his insight to the sport and his personal experience as a pro, he can give our guests and sponsors a great time at races and add value to our team. I hope that this role will be a good start for him in this new period of his life," said Denk.