Nicki Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) drew a close to his 14-year career at Sunday’s Il Lombardia. It wasn’t the dream send-off that he would have hoped for with food poisoning forcing the Dane to abandon the race after 150 kilometres.
Despite the less than ideal exit, Sørensen remained upbeat about his final 150 kilometres on the bike. “It was a good way to end it all. Many of my colleagues came and greeted me, Bjarne held a speech in the bus before the race and I rode with my teammates for the last time,” the 39 year-old said on the team’s website. “It was very sentimental. I got my last massage, my last pre-race meal, my last shower in the bus and all the things you normally don’t think of as being something special.”
Sørensen announced his decision to retire in August, choosing to end his career on his terms rather than wait and hope that the team would renew his contract (Tinkoff-Saxo have now signed the maximum of 30 riders). After having almost two months for the idea of retirement to ruminate, Sørensen he’s ready to move on.
“A new chapter in my life has started after 16 years as a professional, spending most of my waking hours training and preparing. It was very emotional and I consider myself fortunate. I get to retire from a team that I love as a happy man without any bitterness or mixed feelings about my decision. It is not everyone that gets to do that,” he said.
During his lengthy career Sørensen has laid claim to four national road race titles and stage wins at the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. His last victory came at the 2012 Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli.
“I’m, of course, really proud of my victories, especially the one in the Tour that stands out as the pinnacle of my career. But I’m just as happy to have been a part of an amazing team for so many years. I’ve made close friends with both staff and fellow riders, not to mention Bjarne, who has taught me so much.”
According to the Tinkoff-Saxo website, Sørensen has discussed the possibility of staying with the team in some capacity. However, one thing is for sure, he’s going to enjoy his time off the bike. “If I can choose, I’ll never ride 200 plus kilometres again. You never know, but I don’t think that I’ll become one of those super fit former riders. I’ve been on my limit so many times that I think I prefer to take it easy for a while.”