Retired from: Trek-Segafredo
Having announced his decision to hang up his cleats in November 2015, last year was something of one long farewell tour for the great Fabian Cancellara. He even had his own documentary show on Eurosport following his fortunes over the course of the season, and reminiscing over his extraordinary career, which has included seven monument victories, four world time-trial titles and seven Tour de France stage wins.
The Swiss rider known as ‘Spartacus’ enjoyed a send-off worthy of his exceptional standards, playing a typically prominent role during the spring classics to finish second at the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche, and capping it off with an unexpected second Olympic gold of his career in the time-trial.
An imperious presence whether punishing his rivals with imperceptible yet devastating accelerations, or standing up for rider safety as cycling’s self-appointed patron, his retirement leaves a substantial void in the peloton.
Retired from: Trek-Segafredo
In 2012, the fourteenth of his eighteen season-long career, Ryder Hesjedal cemented his place in the cycling history books, triumphing at the Giro d’Italia to become the first – and to date only – Canadian to win a Grand Tour.
The Giro was the race he excelled the most at, finishing in the top five there as recently as 2015 with an entertainingly attacking ride, but he also had success in both the other Grand Tours, finishing fifth at the Tour in 2010 and claiming two stages of the Vuelta.
The gangly rider was an early signing of Jonathan Vaughters’ anti-doping committed Slipstream project in 2008 and went on to spend most of his career there, but his clean reputation was tarnished when in 2013 he admitted to doping earlier in his career.
Retired from: Trek-Segafredo
It wasn’t so long ago that the sight of brothers Frank and Andy Schleck attacking in tandem up the Alps and the Pyrenees was one of the most formidable in cycling, but their partnership was dismantled when Frank failed a dope test in 2012 and when injuries forced Andy to prematurely retire.
Upon returning from his ban in 2014, Frank never looked the same.
Prior to his ban, Frank made the top five of the Tour three times, his highest finishing being third overall in 2011 when he stood alongside his brother on the podium. Among his other career highlights was victory at Amstel Gold in 2006 and the Tour de Suisse in 2010.
A quiet 2016 suggests the time is right to bow out, with a stage win in the mountains at the 2015 Vuelta his last big win.
Retired from: Boels-Dolmans
Lehman Brothers and Gleacher Mezzanine’s loss was cycling’s gain, when Evelyn Stevens opted to leave the world of finance in 2009 to pursue a full-time career on the bike. She quickly became a stalwart of the peloton, picking up wins regularly, including the prestigious Fleche Wallonne in 2012.
She goes out at the very top of her game too, having proved herself an indispensable teammate at Boels-Dolmans for the likes of Lizzie Deignan, with whom she helped win the world team time trial championship, and achieving personal success too, claiming three stages at the Giro Rosa.
She leaves quite a legacy, too, retiring as the reigning women’s UCI Hour Record holder after she broke the previous record in Colorado last February.
Retired from: Tinkoff
With the retirement of Michael Rogers, the peloton loses one of its finest time-triallists and domestiques of recent times.
Between 2003-2005 he was the world’s leading rider against the clock, winning the rainbow jersey three years on the trot, and supplemented his time-trialing skills with impressive climbing to pull off results like overall victory at the 2008 Tour of Germany and making the top ten of the Tour in 2006.
Later in his career the Aussie became a prized domestique, being both a key part in the Sky team that won the yellow jersey for Bradley Wiggins in 2012, and a trusted right-hand man to Alberto Contador at Tinkoff, in which time he also won one Tour and two Giro stages.
Heart problems prevented him from racing for much of the early seasons, and prompted his decision to retire.
Retired from: Wiggle-High5
Her last outing as a pro may have ended in disappointment when she narrowly missed out on a medal at the Olympics, but that ride showed off on a wider platform the kind of powerful climbing that Mara Abbott has built a very successful career out of.
She was at her best at the most difficult race in women’s cycling, the Giro Rosa, which she managed to win twice overall in 2010 and 2013, as well as finishing on the podium on two other occasions and collecting a total of six stage wins and two queen of the mountains classifications.
The American had retired before in 2011 after struggles with an eating disorder, but bounced back to return to her best the following season.
Retired from: One Pro Cycling
For a few years at the start of the decade, Matthew Goss one of the most impressive sprinting classics specialists around. Having taken a few years to adapt from the track (he was a world champion and Commonwealth silver medalist in the team pursuit), he excelled upon moving to HTC-Columbia as a 24-year old, winning the GP Ouest-France classic and a stage of the Giro.
He seemed destined for even greater things when he won Milan-San Remo in 2011, and followed that up with a silver medal behind Mark Cavendish at the Copenhagen Worlds and another Giro stage in 2012 following a move to GreenEdge.
But after that the results dried up, with moves to MTN-Qhubeka and One Pro Cycling failing to reignite his career, leading him to retirement despite his relative young age. He nevertheless leaves the sport with a palmares that most would be envious of.
Retired from: Ag2r La Mondiale
Throughout his 13-year career Johan Vansummeren proved a loyal and fearsome domestique, his tall, six foot six inch frame proving to be the perfect wheel to ride behind in everything from the cobbles of northern Europe to the rolling stages of the Tour de France.
But his career will be remembered for one day in particular – the second Sunday of March 2011, when he capatalised on the peloton’s failure to bring back an early break to become a surprise winner of Paris-Roubaix, a win that in the cycling world makes him immortal
Retired from: Ag2r La Mondiale
The 2014 Tour de France might go down as the blossoming of a new generation of young French riders, but finishing higher than both of Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet was a 37-year old Jean-Christophe Peraud
Having only turned pro in 2010, Peraud was a very late starter to road cycling, but still managed to develop over time heading into that Tour ride, which over the course of just three years turned him into a decent but little known stage-racer into the nation’s darling.
Set to turn 40 this spring, age seems to have belatedly caught up with Peraud.
Retired from: Australian track squad
One of the all-time greats on the track, Anna Meares bowed out of the sport having won bronze in the keirin to make it four medal-winning Olympic participations in a row.
During that time she earned another two golds, a silver and a bronze, as well as a huge eleven world titles – often ahead of her great rival Victoria Pendleton, with whom she shared an emotional exchange with at the Rio velodrome send-off.
Retired from: CCC Sprandi-Polkowice
One of the most familiar sights of the 2000s was that of Sylvester Szmyd at the Giro riding tempo in the mountains. His inexhaustible pace-setting made him one of the peloton’s best climbing domestiques, and he played a key role in delivering Ivan Basso’s 2010 Giro victory for Liquigas, while also achieving personal success with a stage win up Mont Ventoux at the 2009 Dauphine.
It’s been a while since he hit those heights, however, and his retirement comes of the back of two quiet years at Polish outfit CCC Sprandi-Polkowice.
The sort-of retiring…
Much like a hard-boiled detective who keeps coming back for one last case, Bradley Wiggins can’t quite tear himself away from the sport, and could continue competing on the track in 2017 having been named in British Cycling’s Olympic Podium Programme.
Kristin Armstrong has spent years in a similar cycle, coming out of retirement for a second time in her career to land a third Olympic time-trial gold in Rio. At 43-years of age she’s unlikely to return to the road, but hasn’t officially announced her retirement yet – unlike Emma Pooley – another rider to return with the sole ambition of Rio (she finished 14th).
Emma Johansson, meanwhile, reversed her decision to retire altogether, but will likely restrict her competitive appearances to the likes of cyclocross and mountain biking, and not the road.
Alberto Contador had also said during 2016 that it was to be his last season, but has subsequently decided to carry on into 2017.
More confusingly, Joaquim Rodriguez said he would retire from Katusha, then said he’d carry on with Bahrain-Merida, and then on Friday (December 9) announced that actually, yes, he is retiring.