Notes on retirement… How the pros saying goodbye plan to spend their post-cycling days

The end of the cycling season always brings with it a raft of retirements and this year is no different.

But what do professional cyclists do once they hang up their wheels? A lot will stay in the sport in some capacity – coach, sports director, event ambassador etc – while others will move onto pastures new completely (former Grand Tour stage winner Simon Gerrans now works for Goldman Sachs).

But what about those stepping away from the pro peloton this year?

We’ve collected the thoughts of some of the pros waving goodbye to the WorldTour…

Steve Cummings (37)

The Brit announced his retirement this week in a chat with ITV cycling commentator Ned Boulting as part of his Roadbook series of podcasts.

He revealed that the decision to hang up his wheels was because he ran out of options for the 2020 season.

His contract at Dimension Data runs out on December 31 and he wasn’t named in the newly-rebranded NTT squad for 2020.

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Cummings said: “I wanted to continue for another year or so. I felt pretty physically good but it was just the opportunity wasn’t there to continue. I searched around for opportunities and they kind of dried up so that’s it, I’ve got to retire and find a different job. It’s as simple as that.

“There were a few teams that I contacted – not World Tour teams – that I saw as really good projects, something that I really wanted to be involved in but I didn’t go out of my way to search too hard so I think that was a message to myself. I was happy to continue, but I was also happy to stop.

“I’m not sitting here super sad, I’m just grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had. I’ve been pretty privileged to live my dream and I look back with good memories.”

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Things perhaps didn’t end as Cummings would have wanted – he crashed out of his home leg of this year’s Tour of Britain on the Wirral and suffered multiple broken vertebrae which brought his season, and career, to a premature end.

So what’s next Cummings? He told Boulting that the fact he was still having to wear a neck brace as a result of the crash was playing havoc with his immediate post-election plans.

But he said: “Normally, this should be an exciting moment to go and do the things I wanted to do.

“I like walking, I like to do martial arts when I can eventually do it but I’m limited. I’m exploring lots of things, I’m doing a degree in business and sport management which is keeping me busy.”

Laurens ten Dam (39)

The Dutchman may have called time on a 17-year career but it’s fair to say he’s not quite ready to put his bike into storage just yet.

Ten Dam, who took to the start line for the final time at Il Lombardia last month, is turning his focus to adventure riding and tackle events such as the Dirty Kanza races in the US.

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The 39-year-old, who started his career with Dutch outfit Rabobank in 2003 and raced his final season with CCC, set off on his new adventure the day after finishing 94th at Il Lombardia.

Writing on the CCC website before setting off on a ride through Italy, he said: “That will be an exciting moment for me as I will immediately be starting the change from pro cyclist to adventure rider.

“It’s this kind of thing that I’m aiming to do in the future to replace professional cycling but fulfil my love for the bike. For example, I would like to do races like Dirty Kanza, Cape Epic, maybe a crazy bike-packing race. It’ll be cool.”

It’s fair to say that ten Dam has very few regrets about his cycling career.

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He twice finished in the top ten of a Grand Tour – eighth at the Vuelta in 2012 and then ninth at the Tour two years later – and played a part in helping his countryman Tom Dumoulin win his 2017 Giro.

Ten Dam wrote: “My first Grand Tour was in 2008, so in my fifth year as a pro because, before that, I was racing for smaller teams who didn’t do Grand Tours”

“I didn’t necessarily expect to ride the Tour de France when I turned pro, but things were on the rise for me and I was actually 21st in my first Tour.

“It was really nice to be racing in the big leagues and, from then on, the Tour was the race that I built my year around. My fame in Holland, and cycling in general, also started to grow from there because everyone was watching the Tour, and on several occasions, I was the best Dutch rider there.”

Taylor Phinney (29)

The American has decided to step away from the sport at the age of 29 after an injury-hit latter part of his career.

But, like ten Dam, it isn’t the end of his love affair with two wheels.

In a chat with the EF Education First website, Phinney revealed he plans to spend more time on his mountain bike.

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He said: “I feel like everybody who follows me, who enjoys my personality, character, riding style, whatever … They’re going to be able to connect with me on a deeper level. I’m not going anywhere, is what I’m saying.

“I’ll be around and I want to try to help to change this sport from a different angle, just not from the racing side. And to be able to ride my bike for fun.

“I don’t want to race anymore, but I love riding my bike more now than I did when I started racing.  

“I’m so fortunate that I’ve been able to make a living from racing my bike and that I have this opportunity to step away at the age of 29, and to have a foundation that I can then step off of into wherever I want to go.

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“To have that opportunity is one thing, but to take that opportunity — I feel like it doesn’t happen very often, and I want to be one of those people who takes that opportunity.”

Adam Blythe (30)

Blythe is another British national champion leaving the pro peloton and he’s got himself fixed up pretty quickly.

The 30-year-old, who entertained Eurosport viewers with both his race insight and ‘sartorial’ choices this summer during his final season with Lotto-Soudal, has been snapped up by David Millar for his CHPT3 clothing brand.

Blythe will take up a product marketing role with the brand and he admits it’s going to be strange swapping the bike for a desk.

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He said: “It’s going to be my first ever proper job actually. I didn’t even have a paper round before bike racing so it’s all new to me.

“I’ve never been sat behind a desk so it’s going to be pretty weird but yeah, I’m super excited for it.”

There’s apparently going to be a Blythe-inspired range from CHPT3 in the new year and if his shirts on Eurosport are anything to go by, it’s fair to say they won’t be for shrinking violets.

Svein Tuft (42)

In what is becoming a recurring theme, another pro rider swapping the road for a more adventurous form of cycling in his retirement is the Canadian Svein Tuft.

Tuft, who is well-known for his love of other outdoor pursuits alongside his cycling, had planned to retire at the end of 2018 when his contract with Mitchelton-Scott came to an end.

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But after being persuaded to stick it out for another year at the US pro-conti outfit Rally UHC he’s not happy to take the step away after a 14-year career.

That said, the bike won’t ever be too far from Tuft’s mind.

“I think we move until we die and I hope to keep doing these things that I love until I’m ready to pack ‘er in,” said Tuft.

“Not much is going to change for me but I definitely won’t feel forced to ride six hours in the pissing rain or snow, so that’s kinda nice.”

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In an interview with Canadian Cycling Magazine, Tuft – who wore the pink jersey for one stage at the 2014 Giro – revealed he plans to guide gravel tours.

Expanding on his plans, he said: “I like being with people and doing epic trips. I don’t want this to be your average trip. I want this to be something you remember for the rest of your life. I have loops that I do back home that for me, these places blow my mind.”

Mark Renshaw (37)

Long-time Mark Cavendish lieutenant Mark Renshaw announced back in July that this would be his last season, giving him plenty of time to savour his last hurrah.

The 37-year-old said the decision to step away from the World Tour was down to the fact his body and mind would no longer allow him to compete at the very top level like the Tour de France.

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He said: ” I know it’s the right time to step away from racing, my body and mind won’t allow me to perform and compete to the level that’s required for a race like the Tour de France. I am very fortunate to be able to make the decision to finish this chapter of my life on my terms, and I’m hugely excited about my future ventures.

While so often in the service of others – most notably Cavendish – he did notch 12 wins himself as a pro, including the notoriously tough Tro Bro Leon in Brittany in 2006.

His swansong at the Tour of Britain produced a couple of nice moments – firstly taking a bidon off his son in the final feed zone on the way into Manchester and then crossing the finish line in the city arm-in-arm with Cav and Bernhard Eisel.

As for what’s next for the popular Aussie, nothing has been revealed.

He said in the summer that he’d like to stay in the sport in some capacity and given the fact he’s one of the greatest lead-out men of all time we’re sure they’ll be no shortage of offers.

For now, though, he says: “I am most looking forward to being able to spend more time being a dad to Will, Olly and Maggie and giving my wife Kristina some extra support.”

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