Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, will retire from professional cycling at the end of the 2016 season

Ryder Hesjedal, the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour, is to retire from professional cycling at the end of the 2016 season.

The 35-year-old joined US Postal in 2004, having previously ridden as a professional mountain biker and also for the Rabobank development team. He rode for much of his career with the Garmin team, joining Jonathan Vaughters’ squad in 2008 and departing after the 2015 season.

For 2016 he signed a one-year contract with Trek-Segafredo with the hope of contending for a second Giro d’Italia title, but his bid was cut short by illness.

“It definitely wasn’t an easy decision, but it seemed like the right time,” said Hesjedal. “I am ready to move on to other challenges in life. It’s been two decades focusing on the competition of cycling in two different disciplines, and now I want to use that experience in other ways.”

With Garmin-Sharp in 2012, Hesjedal became the first Canadian to wear the Giro d’Italia’s leader’s jersey and then later in the race sealed his status as the first Canadian Grand Tour winner.

He sealed two more top-10 finishes in the Giro, including fifth in 2015. His best finish in the Tour de France came back in 2010 when he finished fifth overall after the disqualifications of Alberto Contador and Denis Menchov.

“I am really grateful for my time in the sport and for all of the support I have received over the years from my teams, family, friends and especially the fans,” he added.

“I truly love cycling and to be able to race at the level I have for so many years has been everything I dreamed it would be since I was a kid and just riding for fun. I want to get back to that and do different things on the bike and in life in general.”