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Navardauskas hangs up his wheels

Navardauskas at the 2020 Saudi Tour
Ramunas Navardauskas (Nippo Delko One Provence) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tour de France and Giro d'Italia stage winner Ramunas Navardauskas has decided to put an end to his career, saying he has "had enough" of cycling and wants to "forget about it a bit".

Announcing his decision to French newspaper La Provence, local to the Nippo Delko One Provence team he has raced with for the past two seasons, the 32-year-old acknowledged he'd had a difficult few years. 

Navardauskas was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia in 2017 and underwent heart surgery later that year. Although he raced 62 days in 2018, the problem derailed his two-year spell at Bahrain-Merida and he joined Nippo Delko for 2019, extending into this year. 

After winning the Lithuanian road race title in 2019, he endured a difficult 2020 and has now decided to call time on his 10-year career.

"I lost the enjoyment," he said, referencing the coronavirus pandemic and also "the worries in the team". 

As reported recently by Cyclingnews, the UCI has initiated bank guarantee proceedings against the team after a number of missed salary payments, while both the governing body and the riders' association are also looking at allegations of threatening behaviour from Philippe Lannes, who took over as manager in the spring.

"I also went through three very difficult years," Navardauskas said. "I was fighting against myself. All of that back-to-back, I need to rest, to take life more calmly, to forget about cycling a bit. Maybe I'll regret it in a few years, but right now, I've had enough. I just want to live easily."

Navardauskas turned professional in 2011 with the Garmin-Cervélo team now known as EF Pro Cycling. He immediately made an impact, helping the team to victory in the team time trial on stage 2 of the Tour de France, before doing the same at the 2012 Giro d'Italia and pulling on the leader's pink jersey. 

He won a stage of the Tour de Romandie in 2013 before doing the same at that year's Giro, while he landed an individual Tour de France stage win the following year with another solo attack into Bergerac.

Navardauskas won the overall title at the Circuit Sarthe in 2014 and 2015 and took the third of his four national road race titles in 2016, to go with the three he'd won in the time trial. 

He was recruited for the new Bahrain-Merida team for their launch in 2017 and was seen as an important part of the support network around Vincenzo Nibali. Things started brightly, with a stage win in the Vuelta a San Juan, but his heart problems were just around the corner. 

Despite feeling tired of the sport, Navardauskas was able to reflect with pride on his career.

"When I was a junior, I didn't think about going pro, but in the end, I've had a great career lasting 10 years. I've had some beautiful victories. It was a great adventure."

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