By Jonny Long
Kévin Reza has announced he will retire at the end of the season as he feels he can no longer take the risks that some of the riders in the peloton are prepared to take.
The 33-year-old has enjoyed a 12-year career in the pro ranks and says that while he can still handle the physical demands of the sport, his head is no longer in the game.
“My decision has been made over the past few weeks. The nervousness in the peloton, the risks some riders take, all the effort over and over, my ass out of the saddle time and time again…I feel like I can't take it all anymore," Reza said.
“I've always told myself that the day I found it increasingly difficult to fulfill my mission, I had to ask myself the right questions. In [the recent Tour of] Belgium I noticed that my physical condition was still good, but that my head no longer followed. My body can no longer handle such pressure. On television, the preparation for a sprint looks fluid and simple, but in reality, it is very different.”
After a bad fall that led to his abandonment of the 2016 Vuelta a España, Reza says it took a mighty effort to get back to the top level of the sport, and the fact he managed that means he can retire without regret.
“It was a terrible challenge to get back on the bike after that fall. That's not how I wanted to end my career. I wanted to show that I could return to the top level. Now I feel the time has come and I have no problem saying so. Saying goodbye is a taboo for many riders, but I really have no problem with it," he explained.
At last year's Tour de France as the only black rider in the midst of the global Black Lives Matter movement, Reza found himself the focal point of discussion on racial equality within the sport of cycling as well as racism in society at large. This year, however, he will not be present at the French Grand Tour.
“In July I want to rest physically and mentally to perform well in my last matches. Then it's time to think about my new career," Reza said. "I don't know exactly what my future looks like yet, but if I get opportunities I will definitely look into them."
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Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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