The Giro d'Italia's oldest competitor, Svein Tuft, has confirmed that this will "more than likely" be his last participation in the Italian Grand Tour and that he will probably retire at the end of the season.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on stage 5, the day he celebrated his 41st birthday, the Mitchelton-Scott rider said he was pleased to be taking part in the Giro d'Italia, which he led in 2014 in the first week - one of the highlights of his career - for what is almost certainly one last time.
A widely respected team worker, the Canadian raced at a professional level in 2002, taking the Canadian National Time Trial title for the first of multiple occasions in 2004, and in 2008 he was a silver medallist in the UCI Time Trial World Championships. He’s also won races like the Tour of Cuba, a stage of the Tour of Denmark, and, much closer to home, the Tour de Beauce.
Currently lying 158th overall in the Giro d'Italia, Tuft told Cyclingnews, "I never say never, but it's more than likely that's going to be the case. I'm pretty sure that this will be my last season.
"I feel really lucky to be doing this Grand Tour. Sometimes, you know, you're not always up for the job, but I feel really good and we have an awesome team here, so it’s a great way to cap off the career."
As for the rest of the season, he says, "Every year, you get through the Giro and then you reassess, because you never know how you come out."
But as for the races he'll like to do one last time, he says, "I'd love to do the Canadian Nationals. I've had a good run there and most of the time I've been doing a lot of work with the worlds TTT crew, so it's always been a lot of races with them. But it would be cool to do the WorldTour races in Canada and even the US races, Colorado. That's where I started in North America so it'd be a fun way to finish up there.
"But I've never been one of those guys who says, 'Oh, I have to do this race, this'd be the perfect calendar for me.' It's more about the adventure of it and riding with a good group of people. That's what's always motivated me. What races I'm doing doesn't really matter so much."
Tuft is not, he says, looking at the Worlds as a massive objective, given the course, very mountainous this year, is not so suited for him.
"But if the team wants me there for the team time trial, I'd definitely go there and give it everything before the big climb [on the course] there," he said. "But it definitely is more of a climbing team time trial kind of course."
He has always had thoughts of what he will do afterwards at the back of his mind, but says, "The tunnel vision this job has to have means you don't want to give it too much thought to that part. I'm going to take my time. Something I do love is working with people in sport. Not so much the performance aspect, but the aspects to do with everything else.
"A lot of young guys need a lot of help in other aspects of their lives, because this sport can be so concentrated on that one goal [of performance] that final, end result. That mentality can be really detrimental. It’s not always the most healthy way to go through life."
Although obviously fully dedicated to working for Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves in a team role at the Giro d'Italia, Tuft is also, logically, delighted to see a fellow Canadian like Mike Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) coming through so well in the Grand Tours and continuing to fly the flag in the future.
"Back in 2012," Tuft recalls, “I raced with Mike on the National Team in Canada, the Tour de Beauce, and I saw right away this kid has the talent. I mean, he was green, because he'd just started racing, but I was telling every director that would listen he had what it takes. And now, sure enough, here he is ripping into it. He's a Grand Tour contender on stages and maybe overall. He's made a fantastic progression.
"It's really satisfying to watch, because I feel like it's one of these stories you don't hear too often."