Seven-time Monument winner Fabian Cancellara has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2016 season and will skip the Olympic Games in his 16th and final year.
The Classics specialist made his announcement at a cycling awards ceremony in his native Switzerland, telling SRF: “Next year is my last year.”
He added: “The timing was just right. Cycling is not my life, but only a part of my life.”
Questions had been circulating about when the 34-year-old would hang up his wheels, having suffered a nightmare 2015 season during which he suffered twice with a broken back.
The first injury came just 20km into his first cobbled race of the year, E3 Harelbeke, which ruled him out of the Classics season. Then, while in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, the Swiss crashed hard on stage three and was later diagnosed with another fractured vertebrae.
Watch highlights of stage three of the Tour de France
Two third-place finishes in the opening two stages gave Cancellara his 29th Tour de France yellow jersey at the end of the second stage – the most of any rider who’s never won the race overall.
But it is in the one-day Classics where Cancellara has gained his reputation as a fearsome competitor, winning three Paris-Roubaix titles as well as three Tours of Flanders.
In 2010 and 2013, the Swiss won both of the cobbled Monuments and finished on the podium in 10 of the 11 Monuments that he finished.
In 2008, Cancellara won his only Milan-San Remo title to date – finishing no lower than third between 2011 and 2014 – and also claimed gold in the Olympic Games time trial in Beijing.
In the road race he finished second to Samuel Sanchez and aimed to go one better at the London 2012 games, but while leading the race he misjudged a corner with 15km to go and crashed into a barrier, seeing his chances of gold disappear.
A mountainous course in Rio next August seemingly doesn’t suit Cancellara’s skillset, allowing the Trek rider to focus on the Classics and Tour de France without saving his energy for the Games.