Pictorial look back at Andy Schleck's career as he announces his retirement from professional cycling. Photos by Graham Watson and Andy Jones

TAGS:

After a lengthy period of speculation, Andy Schleck announced his retirement from professional cycling on Thursday morning. The Trek Factory Racing rider from Luxembourg drew his a nine-year career to a close.

After turning professional with the CSC team in 2005, Schleck very soon established himself as one of the peloton’s most promising riders. In 2006, he was part of CSC’s Tour of Britain team and won the mountains classification.

Schleck soon made his mark in Grand Tours by placing second in the 2007 Giro d’Italia behind Danilo Di Luca and winning the best young rider award. He went on to win the best young rider classification of the 2008 Tour de France, the first of three consecutive years he would do so. In 2009, Schleck showed he could take a significant one-day win by attacking solo in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

In 2010, Schleck finished the Tour in second place behind Alberto Contador, but received the ‘win’ after Contador tested positive for clenbuterol during the race. Schleck would then place second behind Cadel Evans the following year, taking stage 18 along the way. But that would be the last of his success.

A string of injuries, poor form and crashes meant that 2011 would be the last season to include a victory. A crash during stage three of the 2014 Tour de France to London caused a knee injury that he could not recover from, despite surgery.

His older brother, Frank Schleck will continue with Trek Factory Racing.

Andy Schleck wins mountains classification at the 2006 Tour of BritainSchleck won the mountains classification at the 2006 Tour of Britain

Andy and dad Jonny Schleck on stage 13 of the 2007 Giro d'ItaliaA fresh-faced Schleck with dad and former pro Johny Schleck on stage 13 of the 2007 Giro d’Italia

GIRO D'ITALIA - STAGE 15Schleck climbs on stage 15 of the 2007 Giro d’Italia, where he would finish as runner-up and take the best young rider title

Schleck-centre-of-attentionSchleck signs autographs at the 2007 Giro d’Italia

Andy Schleck on Healy Pass, 2007 Tour of IrelandSchleck on Healy Pass, 2007 Tour of Ireland

Linus Gerdemann, Tom Boonen, Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador, Thomas Dekker, Amstel Curacao Race 2008Schleck (right) poses with Linus Gerdemann, Tom Boonen, Alberto Contador and Thomas Dekker at the Amstel Curacao Race in 2008

AMSTEL INVITATION - CURACAOSchleck and friend in Curacao, 2008

TOUR OF CALIFORNIA - STAGE FIVEDescending in the 2009 Tour of California

THE FLECHE WALLONNESchleck (right) and Davide Rebellin in the 2009 edition of Fleche Wallonne. Rebellin would take the victory, with Schleck second

LIEGE-BASTOGNE-LIEGEOne of Schleck’s stand-out victories – a solo attack netted him the win in 2009 Liege-Bastogne-Liege

TOUR DE FRANCE - STAGE SEVENTEENAndy with brother Frank (right) after stage 17 of the 2009 Tour de France

TOUR DE FRANCE - STAGE TWENTYOn stage 20 of the 2009 Tour de France with sparring partner Alberto Contador (left). Lance Armstrong is just behind him

TOUR DE FRANCE - STAGE EIGHTPerhaps Schleck’s most convincing performance in any Grand Tour was during the 2010 Tour de France: here he wins stage eight

Schleck-&-Contador-3Schleck and Contador on Ax 3 Domaines during the 2010 Tour de France

TOUR DE FRANCE - STAGE FIFTEENSchleck’s dropped chain during stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France initially cost him the race. Rival Contador attacked him on the climb to Port de Balès. However, a positive test for clenbuterol would see Contador banned and Schleck inherited the 2010 Tour win

TOUR DE FRANCE - STAGE SEVENTEENA bit of revenge: Schleck wins stage 17 of the 2010 Tour de France as Contador looks on…

TOUR DE FRANCE - STAGE SEVENTEEN… or perhaps Contador and Schleck came to an agreement during the stage

AMSTEL GOLD RACEAttacking during the 2011 Amstel Gold Race

TOUR OF SWITZERLAND - STAGE 9Time trialling – never Andy Schleck’s forte – during the 2011 Tour de Suisse, where he would win the mountains classification

Andy Schleck wins stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France Winning stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France – perhaps Schleck’s last career highpoint

Tour Down Under - PresentationPosing with a snake at the 2012 Tour Down Under. His season would later come to an abrupt end in the Criterium du Dauphine, where he crashed out with a fractured pelvis, missing the 2012 Tour de France

Tirreno-Adriatico - Stage FourA decidedly unhappy-looking Schleck on stage four of 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico

Tour de France - Stage 15Riding up Mont Ventoux during the 2013 Tour de France. In March, a French politician alleged to have spotted Schleck drunk in a hotel lift. Schleck dismissed the story, but rumours persisted that perhaps his problems ran deeper than simply physical injury. He finished the race in 20th place

Tour de Suisse - Stage 9Schleck leads an escape on stage nine of the 2014 Tour de Suisse

Tour de France - Stage 2On stage two of the 2014 Tour de France in Yorkshire, just a day before crashing out and sustaining the knee injury that would ultimately cause him to retire from the sport