Former British champion Pete Kennaugh considering racing comeback: 'It's belonging, normality, freedom, this is who I am, purpose'

The Brit stepped away from the sport due to ongoing mental health issues

Peter Kennaugh
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pete Kennaugh has said that he is considering a comeback into professional cycling after nearly three years away from the sport.

A former double national road race champion, Kennaugh announced he would take an indefinite break while riding for Bora-Hansgrohe in April of 2019 as he battled ongoing mental health issues.

In a new film by Wahoo called 'Pete Kennaugh – The Book That Was Never Finished', the 32-year-old talks of the emotion he has towards cycling now he has been away for so long.

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In the film, Kennaugh said: "If I'm sounding like the last three years have been some kind of pilgrimage, it hasn't, it's been far from it. 

"I talked about cycling being hard in the last couple of years in my career, well the first year of retirement was the most stressful and down, hardest experience for Lauren, my wife, and the fact that she's stuck with me now is incredible from what I put her through and how low I was. 

"Going through that, that was part of the process."

Kennaugh's last race was at the UAE Tour in early March of 2019 before the Manx rider announced that he needed to step away from the sport.

His decision saw cyclists such as Owain Doull (soon EF Education-Nippo), Adam Blythe, and Sir Bradley Wiggins throwing support behind him for the "brave" decision to move away from professional cycling.

"It's been an experience or a journey that I wouldn't take back because if I hadn't have done it I wouldn't be where I am now, I'd be in the same position, just wasting years and wasting time." Kennaugh continued.

In his career, Kennaugh won the British national road title twice along with two stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Tour of Austria and others in his excellent nine years as a professional.

He added: "I could go back to cycling now and someone could say 'oh there's Pete Kennaugh who retired or stopped three years ago' and I'd be like 'so what?' I've seen life. I've lived. I've helped myself and actually for you thinking that actually says more about you than anything.

"What gives me the confidence is because I wouldn't have thought like that two years ago, that would have petrified me or that would've been enough for me to never ever dream about going back.

"But without asking the question, or without being brave enough to put yourself out there again... You'll never know. And why not? Why not rewrite the chapter that was never written? The book that was never finish?"

"So, write some more stories. You know? Write a different ending."

Kennaugh continued by adding how he feels the fire within him, how he is trying to keep it under wraps because of the circumstances he's in but he feels it when he rides his bike and when he clips into his pedals. 

"I clipped in today and I was like 's**t, that's it'. That's what I feel. It's belonging, normality, freedom, this is who I am, purpose. Everything with that one clip of the pedal.

"A sports psychologist who I'm really good friends with as well, when I stopped he helped me out and his main question to me was 'what's your identity? Who are you? Everyone knows you as Peter Kennaugh the cyclists, but who are you?'

"And the answer to that is... Peter Kennaugh the cyclist."

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.