Conor Dunne said “racing bikes was an adventure he’ll never forget” as he announced his retirement from racing, aged 27.
Irishman Dunne, the tallest rider in the pro peloton, has been through a turbulent period in recent years after the collapse of his Aqua Blue Sport team and last minute signing to Israel Cycling Academy for 2019.
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But facing 2020 without a ride, Dunne has opted to retire from the sport in order to “put his energy into a new challenge.”
Announcing his retirement in an Instagram post, Dunne said: “I’ve been pretty quiet on my plans for next year enjoying some time with my family and taking a break from everything.
“Next year I’ll be hanging up the race wheels for good. Racing bikes was an adventure I’ll never forget, that I shared with so many incredible people.
“It’s hard to say goodbye to something that has motivated/driven me for so long but now felt like the right time to put my energy into a new challenge and I’m so excited about what comes next.”
Dunne, who stands at 6ft 6ins, started his career in 2014 with Irish Continental outfit An Post-Chain Reaction, going on to ride for JLT-Condor in 2016.
In 2017 he stepped up to the Professional Continental ranks with Aqua Blue Sport, riding his first Grand Tour the Vuelta a España that season and won the Irish National Championships the following year.
Dunne was one of the riders caught up in the collapse of Aqua Blue Sport in 2018, as the team pulled out of the Tour of Britain a week before the race as team owner Rick Delaney blamed a combination of a failed merger, equipment sponsors and race organisers for the outfit’s closure.
After being left without a team for 2020, Dunne signed a late deal with Israel Cycling Academy for 2019 and rode the Giro d’Italia.
But Dunne was left without a ride for 2020 as Israel Cycling Academy merged with Katusha-Alpecin to step up to WorldTour level this season.
He added: “I’m proud of what I managed within the sport. Most of the time I got a an absolute kicking but every now and then I managed to win the odd race with myself and I feel I always gave all I had in the process.
“However, it wasn’t the races or the results that I’ll look back on (not that I have many results to look back on), but it’s the people, places, experiences that will stay with me.”