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Roelandts retires after 17 seasons in professional peloton

Movistar’s Jürgen Roelandts at the 2020 Tour Down Under
Movistar’s Jürgen Roelandts at the 2020 Tour Down Under (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Belgium's Jürgen Roelandts will retire at the end of the season, having spent 17 years as a professional at teams that included Lotto, BMC and, for the past two years, Spanish WorldTour outfit Movistar.

Roelandts took the Belgian road race title in 2008, and went on to take another seven victories during his career, including a stage and the overall title at the 2012 Eurométropole Tour, and stage wins at the Tour de Luxembourg and the Tour de Pologne, with his last win coming on a stage of the 2018 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

He also finished third at the 2013 Tour of Flanders – behind Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan – and third at the 2016 Milan-San Remo, where he was beaten in the bunch sprint by Arnaud Démare and Ben Swift.

Roelandts was set to ride this Sunday's Tour of Flanders – for what would have been the 10th time – and next week's Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, but an injured shoulder as a result of a crash at the BinckBank Tour earlier this month has already ended his season, and now the 35-year-old's career.

"It was a tough decision to make – especially since cycling has always been such a big part of my life. I started cycling from the age of 12; that makes 24 seasons in total," he said in a statement published on the Movistar team's website on Thursday. "However, due to the circumstances and various injuries, I'm not able to compete at the highest level, or the level I would like to be at. I know I still have what it takes to compete at WorldTour races, but training and racing with pain – day in, day out – makes it incredibly hard, physically and mentally."

Roelandts took the opportunity to thank his family, friends, teammates and staff members, and said that he was proud of what he'd achieved during his career.

"I raced for the best and most successful teams, and was able to ride beautiful races and to compete at the highest level. I took the national jersey as my first pro win, and stepped onto the podium in some of my favourite Classics, like Flanders and Milan-San Remo. My top five and top 10 finishes at the World Championships and the Olympic Games, respectively, are results to be proud of," he said.

Jürgen Roelandts' full retirement statement:

"Coming into the last part of the season, I am officially announcing my retirement from professional cycling at the end of this year. As I'm still suffering from an injured shoulder due to a crash in the BinckBankTour, I'll unfortunately not race anymore this season.

"It was a tough decision to make – especially since cycling has always been such a big part of my life. I started cycling from the age of 12; that makes 24 seasons in total. However, due to the circumstances and various injuries, I'm not able to compete at the highest level, or the level I would like to be at. I know I still have what it takes to compete at WorldTour races, but training and racing with pain – day in, day out – makes it incredibly hard, physically and mentally.

"Yet, I'm proud of the things I've achieved during my career. I raced for the best and most successful teams, and was able to ride beautiful races and to compete at the highest level. I took the national jersey as my first pro win, and stepped onto the podium in some of my favourite Classics, like Flanders and Milan-San Remo. My top five and top 10 finishes at the World Championships and the Olympic Games, respectively, are results to be proud of.

"I have so many people to thank: family, friends, teammates, staff members (that feel like family and friends), fans, race organisers… although I want to thank my wife, Agnes, in particular for always being by my side, and my parents and sister, who have supported me during my 24 years as a cyclist. I'm looking forward to spending more time with them and with my son, Arton, which wasn't always possible in the past.

"I'm also looking forward to what comes next and to start a new (professional) chapter. I'm extremely grateful for all the support and very excited to see what the future holds."