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Wegelius calls time on cycling career

Charly Wegelius (UnitedHealthcare)

Charly Wegelius (UnitedHealthcare) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Charles Wegelius will retire after 11 seasons in the professional ranks. The 33-year-old will make his final racing appearance at the Giro di Padania this week in Italy.

Wegelius rode as a stagiare for the Linda McCartney Racing Team in 1999 and was snapped up by the Mapei team at the start of 2001. A solid climber, Wegelius made a name for himself as a reliable domestique and rode ten grand tours for De Nardi, Liquigas and Silence-Lotto. He rode for UnitedHealthCare this season.

“During my career I did what I could as a rider, always trying to give my best for my team and my teammates. I think my work was appreciated and made a difference, especially in races like the Giro d'Italia,” Wegelius said.

“One of the my proudest moments in that sense came at the 2006 Giro when I read in Gazzetta dello Sport that Eddy Merckx said his son Axel would have won the previous day's stage to Peschici if he'd had a teammate like me to help him. It was nice to hear such praise from some one like Merckx.”

Despite his talents and work rate Wegelius never won a professional bike race on his own. He did, however, form part of three team time trial wins.

“Of course I've got a few regrets and wish I could have done some things differently but I'm proud of my career,” he said.

“One of the big regrets is that I never won a race. I was part of three team time trial winning teams but that is not like winning alone. I went very close this year at the Vuelta Asturias on a mountain finish but finished third after Constantino Zaballa passed me in the final kilometre.”

Wegelius was also part of the controversial Great Britain Worlds team in 2005. Along with Tom Southam, he was forced to pay back all his costs from the event after he didn’t work for team leader Roger Hammond. He never represented Great Britain at the Worlds again.

On announcing his retirement, he paid tribute to those who helped him, including his coaches at an early age. He also thanked Aldo Sassi. The Italian died in December of last year after a long battle with illness.

“I'd like to thank several people who helped me during my career. Sadly, Aldo Sassi, the person I'm most indebted to, is not here. He was my coach but so much more and I'm proud to have been one of his riders. He was always there for me, even when things were hard and I was despondent and unsure about my future. I'll never forget him.”

Wegelius was coy on his plans for the future but did admit that an announcement would be forthcoming.

“I'm going to miss racing but my body knows it is time to call it a day. I'm looking forward to spending much more time at home with my wife, Camilla. Fortunately I'll also be staying in the sport and an announcement about that will be made soon. I'm as excited about my new life as I was about turning professional in 2000.”

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