Ed Clancy forced to pull out of Tokyo 2020 Olympics, bringing his career to an end

Clancy has spent 20 years on the Great Britain Cycling Team and has competed in three Olympic games

Ed Clancy
(Image credit: Barrington Coombs/Getty Images for British Olympic Association)

Ed Clancy has been forced to pulled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, bringing his career as an Olympian to a premature end. 

Clancy, 36, has been suffering from ongoing back and sciatica issues, which have forced him to withdraw from the men’s pursuit competition after the qualifying round.

The Yorkshireman has also confirmed his retirement from Team GB, after a career spanning 20 years and three Olympic games.

For the remainder of the team pursuit competition in Tokyo, Charlie Tanfield will step in for Clancy to join Ethan Hayter, Ethan Vernon and Ollie Wood. 

He said: “I’m absolutely gutted that my Olympic career has ended this way, but it would be unfair of me to try to carry on now I have aggravated my back injury. Ultimately, I want the rest of the lads to build on the hard work we have done over the past year and a half and give them the best possible chance of making it on to the podium. I will be supporting them all the way.”

“I’ve spent just over 20 years on the Great Britain Cycling Team and I see it as my family. I have achieved more during my time than I ever could have dreamed of, it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life. It’s been a pleasure, to the extent that if I could go back in time I would do it all over again. It’s a tough call, because I’m enjoying it more now than I ever have done, but the difficult choice is usually the right one and right now is the time to go. I want to thank everyone – family, friends, coaches, trade teams, sponsors, British Cycling and everyone else who has supported me – my career success has been a big team effort.” 

Clancy was one of the first riders to earn selection in the now-famous British Cycling Academy, winning his first world title in the team pursuit in 2005, aged just 20.

With three gold medals to his name in the team pursuit, from Beijing, London and Rio, he is the most successful rider in that discipline in history. 

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British Cycling performance director Stephen Park said: “I admire Ed for taking the decision to retire from the sport which he still has a strong passion for. I know it was tough for him having to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on account of his back issues, but his professionalism and honesty led him to make this decision and he can hold his head high knowing he was part of the quartet who posted the fourth fastest time in an event we know would be incredibly competitive.

“Through his domination in the team pursuit and by winning three consecutive Olympic gold medals, Ed has played a big part in driving the event forward, to the extent where we are witnessing the times we saw posted in Berlin and what we saw yesterday in qualifying.

“Away from the bike, Ed embodies the values of our team and has become a trusted mentor to his younger teammates. It’s been a pleasure to support Ed with his fantastic achievements and on behalf of everyone on the Great Britain Cycling Team, I wish him the very best of luck for the future, and I hope he keeps some involvement with us.

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.