Ruth Winder will retire from a successful seven-year career in professional cycling at the end of the 2021. The Trek-Segafredo rider made the announcement in a video message on Friday, which was her 28th birthday, just ahead of stage 8 at the Giro d’Italia Donne where she is currently competing in the 10-day race across northern Italy.
"I've made the decision that this will be my last year racing as a professional road cyclist, which I think is really an exciting decision for me," Winder said in a video announcement on Youtube.
"I feel like I've been on the verge of making this decision for a few years and just really feel at piece with it now in my heart. I feel really lucky to be on Trek-Segafredo and I feel like I've reached so many of my dreams already but my heart misses home while I'm on the road so much of the year because as an American, or somebody that doesn't live in Europe, you have to sacrifice quite a lot of your life when you're over in Europe racing.
"It's not that I don't love racing anymore or that I don't love the team anymore or couldn't get a contract - it's none of those things, and I feel like I'm a really strong cyclist in the peloton, I just feel like I miss home a lot."
Winder said she has considered when the right moment to retire might be for two years, and cited missing home, her fiancé and family as the main reasons that she felt ready to retire at the end of this year.
She also said that she felt like she was leading two different lifestyles; one as 'Ruth from home' and the other as 'bike-racer Ruth'.
"I'm really fortunate to have a fiancé at home who I am really, deeply in love with, and who I miss all the time when I'm on the road. He's been nothing but supportive of me, but I just feel like it's the time in my life to go home. We are actually buying a house together and getting quite excited about our future," Winder said.
"I came to the decision for this to be my last year, I think, over the last two years. Definitely, with the coronavirus pandemic that's happened, it's kind of helped me, in a way, because my loved ones have been unable to travel and visit me. But also just really realising what it was that I wanted to get out of the sport and what goals I wanted to achieve and what it was that was making me happy.
"I feel like I live two completely separate lives. I have this life at home and I'm the Ruth at home with my friends, my family and my fiancé, and I'm the bike-racer Ruth when I'm in Europe. It's become really clear for me that the universe back at home is the one that is pulling me stronger."
Winder started bike racing at 14 years old and turned professional with UnitedHealthcare in 2014 where she spent three seasons. She then spent the 2018 season with Sunweb before moving to Trek-Segafredo in 2019.
She's had a successful career with early stage wins at Joe Martin, Tour de Feminin and Tour de l'Ardeche, and second overall at Lotto Belgium Tour. She then won stages at the Giro d'Italia Donne and Santos Women's Tour Down Under, where she also won the overall title. She is also a strong one-day racer with victories at the USA Pro Road Championships, and this year she won at Brabantse Pijl and finished seventh at Flèche Wallonne.
Winder said that following her retirement she would like to continue coaching and working with junior-level cyclists in her community in Boulder, Colorado. She would also like to do more gravel and off-road riding.
"I would love to stay in cycling somehow, maybe there's a really good junior programme in Boulder that I would love to work with, apparently they have 250 juniors in the cycling club and I would love to give back some of my knowledge of racing because it's what I've done since I was 14 or 15 years old," Winder said.
"I love the sport still. I think it's great. I told my teammates that I would still come to the Ardennes and watch them race, and cheer them on, because I think it would be so fun as a spectator to come to the races.
"I would love to coach more. I would do some gravel racing in the US and hope to have a really good time. I've been watching those races and everyone seems like they have a really good time on the gravel bikes. I'd have fun on the dirt. If you know me then you know that I always try to ride my mountain bike when I'm home and I ride my 'cross bike a lot in the winter."
Winder said it was tough to pick one moment of her career that stood out above all the rest, and that she has enjoyed her time with her teammates at Trek-Segafredo.
"Singling it down to one moment is really hard. On Trek-Segafredo, we are really lucky because I feel like the last couple of years on this team have been amazing. To race on team where everybody has so much respect for each other, and coming to all of the races and feeling that respect all the time is special. To love the bike and to love to win, all together multiple times, has been, as a general whole, really cool and something that I'm going to treasure for ever."
Winder said that cycling has taught her about working and living among a diverse group of people and she hopes to carry those experiences into the next chapter of her life.
"Cycling has taught me so much, and to be honest, it's all I've done for my entire life and they way that I've grown up since I was 14 through the bike by traveling and meeting different people," Winder said.
"As a professional athlete, you do meet so many different people, and you get along with them and work with them in a professional manner. I hope that will take me far into the future."
Asked if she felt she might miss out on the upcoming progress in women's cycling given that there will be the launch of a new version of the women's Tour de France 2022, Winder said there will always be progress to look forward to, and she will remain part of it as a fan.
"From the time I started coming over to Europe to now, women’s cycling has changed so much and it’s getting bigger. Next year, we have a women’s Tour de France, which is huge. It’s really awesome to have been part of this," Winder said.
"Of course, maybe there’s a small part in the back of my head that thinks, 'it’s going to keep growing and you’re gonna miss out on some'. The fact is that I will still be a fan from the side and it’s going to continue to grow well passed the end of my career."
Winder was named to the four-rider team that will represent the US in the road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 25; including Chloe Dygert (Canyon-SRAM), Leah Thomas (Movistar) and Coryn Rivera (Team DSM). She outlined her final races of the season, and said she will close out her career with the World Championships in Belgium.
"I really want to finish it out in the best possible way that I can. After the Giro, that we are at now, I go to Tokyo for Team USA, and then I’ll have [Clasica] San Sebastian, before I go home for a month, and then I’ll come back to Europe for GP de Plouay and Tour de l’Ardeche before the World Championships, which I am very excited about this year. I definitely want to finish out the season really strong."
Watch her full announcement in the Youtube video below.
Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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