Luxembourgish rider Frank Schleck announces that the 2016 season will be his last, saying "there is never an easy way to stop doing something you love to do"

Frank Schleck has announced that he will retire from competitive cycling at the end of the 2016 season, after 14 years as a professional.

The 36-year-old made the announcement during a press conference at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where he is representing his home nation of Luxembourg in the road race on Saturday.

“There is never an easy way to stop doing something you love to do, but I’ve always wanted to retire at a level where I was still competitive and fit,” said Schleck.

“I’m really proud of having spent a large part of my life riding my bike for a living and, above all, I’m extremely thankful for the friends I have made along the way.”

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Frank Schleck’s brother Andy retired from pro cycling at the end of 2014, and has since opened a bike shop. For now, Frank says that he just wants to spend more time with his family when this season ends.

“I will always be a bike rider, but leaving the professional side of things will allow me to spend more time with my family and to see my two kids grow up,” said Schleck. “I have mellowed over the years, and my family and kids became more and more important to me.”

Since making his debut in the pro ranks with CSC in 2003, Schleck has won two stages of the Tour de France and one in the Vuelta a España. He also counts victories in the Tour de Suisse, Criterium International and Amstel Gold Race among his palmares. He will end his career with Trek-Segafredo.

Andy and Frank Schleck in the 2014 Fleche Wallonne (Watson)

Andy and Frank Schleck in the 2014 Fleche Wallonne (Watson)

Both Schleck brothers were touted as Grand Tour contenders, and Andy inherited the 2010 Tour de France title when Alberto Contador was suspended due to a positive test for clenbuterol during the race.

Frank appeared on the Tour podium once, placing third in 2011 behind winner Cadel Evans and brother Andy. He was fifth in the 2008 Tour and fourth in 2009.

Schleck’s career was not without controversy. Allegations surfaced in 2008 that he had been involved with Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the Operation Puerto doping ring. A link was confirmed when Schleck admitted paying Fuentes €7,000. However, Schleck insisted that he had never doped and he was cleared by the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency.

Schleck’s Grand Tour progress faltered when he tested positive for Xipamide at the 2012 Tour, and was suspended for 12 months. Since then, he has only taken two victories – the Luxembourg national road race title and a stage of the Vuelta in 2015.

Schleck says that his Tour podium finish in 2011 was the highlight of his career.

“I could mention a lot of moments that have stood out for me, but finishing on the podium of the Tour de France has to be my proudest moment as a bike rider – that memory will never be far away,” said Schleck.

“But, to be fair, right now I don’t want to become too nostalgic because the season is still long and I really want to give 100 per cent to the team until the very end of it. I would love to get a victory in the coming months; that would be a dream, the perfect scenario, really.”