Adrien Costa, the 20-year-old American cycling talent, has elected not to return to racing and the Hagens Berman Axeon cycling team for the 2018 season, saying that his "heart was not 100 per cent in it".
Costa initially decided to take a break from racing last spring, citing fatigue, and wishes to continue to pursue other interests in 2018. He said that it would be unfair to take up a place on the Hagens Berman Axeon development team or put in a "half-assed" performance, and so has decided to give it up.
"I’m just not ready to come back yet,” Costa said via a team statement. “The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t want to hold a spot on the team when that meant denying someone else of the opportunity.
“Since I stopped racing in April 2017, I've learned a lot about myself and realized how big, and unbalanced, of a part of me was cycling.
“I knew that if I was going to race again, it'd be in a much different, more relaxed way. I wasn't able anymore to have the single-minded, razor-sharp focus for training and racing that I once woke up with daily. I knew I had to lean on other things in life to provide me more balance and more happiness overall."
Costa has spent time in his native USA, as well as spending time in Europe – but not as part of a cycling team.
“After some time back in the US, I've been travelling and working in France, allowing myself to explore my other interests while also getting back to the basic joy of riding a bike for pleasure," said Costa.
“When it came to thinking about racing, however, I could tell my heart was not 100 per cent in it. And cycling is such a hard sport that there's no faking it when that's the case. So as our Axeon team camp draws near, I realised that the team deserved more than a half-assed version of me.
"I decided that I didn't want to take a much more deserving, much more motivated individual's place in the team, and that I didn't want to be paid to race mediocrely in just a few events in 2018."
Costa says that he will return to Oregon State University to finish his studies in Outdoor Leadership and Tourism. Long-term, he is keeping his options open – including a possible return to racing.
“I look forward to still spending some time on my bike, catching up with friends new and old, and keeping it fun. Who knows that the future will hold; as I've come to learn, anything is possible.”
Costa's spot on the team has been filled by fellow American Sean Bennett, who joins the team from the CCB Foundation-Sicleri Cycling Team after the latter released him from his contract. Bennett put in some impressive performances during 2017, including claiming the mountains classification at the Tour de Bretagne.
Hagens Berman Axeon manager Axel Merckx said: "I’ve had Sean on my radar for some time. When I got a message from Neilson [Powless] after l’Avenir about how good and strong Sean was riding, I wanted to get him on the team. But we didn’t have a spot left."
"After I spoke with Adrien, Sean was first guy I thought about. I knew he had already committed to CCB, but I got in contact with Tim Mitchell [CCB team director] to see if we could work something out. We had a good discussion and luckily for us, Tim was kind enough to release Sean of his contract and allow him to come to us immediately."
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