Magnus Backstedt has decided to retire from professional cycling to spend time with his family and develop his under-23 team.
The Swedish rider, who lives in Wales with his wife Megan, a former British international, and their children, celebrated his 34th birthday last week.
Backstedt was due to race for Garmin-Slipstream this season, but today announced that he was stepping down from top level racing, although he will continue to ride with the Continental team he has helped launch, Cyclesport.se-Magnus Maximus Coffee.com, as he winds down from the rigours of full-time training. The team, which takes part of its name from Backstedt's brand of coffee, has seven Swedish riders and one Brit, Daniel Patten, enrolled for 2009.
"My body has basically told me to pack in and slow down," Backstedt told Cycling Weekly today. "I have had three and a half years of injury after injury, and sickness in between. I have always managed to meet my targets and prepare for the big races, but at the cost of overloading in terms of training.
"Mentally, I was taking a lot of blows as well ? always fighting back ? and I have been sick since Christmas and don?t seem to be able to shift it," said the popular former Paris-Roubaix winner.
Garmin-Slipstream?s manager Jonathan Vaughters said: ?Magnus has decided he doesn?t want to race at ProTour level anymore and wants to step back and spend more time with his family and work with his under-23 team.?
The highlight of Backstedt?s career came in 2004, when he won his favourite race - Paris-Roubaix - realising his dream in the process. Backstedt outsprinted Tristan Hoffman, Roger Hammond and Fabian Cancellara in the velodrome at Roubaix to get his hands on the prestigious cobblestone trophy.
It was a fantastic week of racing for the big Swede, who spent much of the previous Sunday on the attack in the Tour of Flanders and took second in the midweek Ghent-Wevelgem.
Last season started badly for Backstedt. He crashed during the Tour of Qatar, breaking his collarbone. Although he was back on his turbo trainer in days, it disrupted his training for the Classics.
He was part of the Slipstream team that won the team time trial at the Giro d?Italia.
However, at the Tour de France, he was eliminated on stage seven to Aurillac when he was dropped and finished four minutes outside the time limit.
|BACKSTEDT?S BEST DAYS|
July 31 1998 ? Tour de France
A chaotic Tour de France, ravaged by the Festina doping scandal, was just two days from Paris when the riders tackled a long 238-kilometre stage from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Autun.
With just one fourth-category climb en route, a group of 13 attacked. With 20 kilometres to go, Backstedt, Pascal Derame, Eddy Mazzoleni and Maarten den Bakker got clear.
Backstedt?s GAN team-mate Stuart O?Grady, who had won a stage a few days earlier, was also in the 13-man break and made sure no one chased.
At the finish, Backstedt got his big gear rolling to outsprint the other three and become the first Swede to win a Tour stage.
April 11, 2004 ? Paris-Roubaix
Backstedt was in the thick of the action all day. With 30 kilometres to go, Tom Boonen, Juan Antonio Flecha, George Hincapie and Leif Hoste attacked. As they were caught, one of the big favourites Peter Van Petegem punctured.
The Carrefour de l?Arbre section of cobbles with 15 kilometres to go produced the final selection. Backstedt, Hammond, Hoffman, Cancellara, Hincapie and Johan Museeuw got clear. Museeuw, who tried repeatedly to attack, punctured with six kilometers to go.
Backstedt entered the velodrome in third place, then made his move up the inside to win.
Watch the highlights on You Tube.
|LIFE AND TEAMS OF MAGNUS BACKSTEDT|
1998-2001 GAN / Crédit Agricole
2002-2003 Team Fakta
GP d?Isbergues, 1997
Tour of Sweden stage, 1998
Swedish National road race champion, 2002 and 2007
GP Fayt le Franc, 2002
Swedish National time trial champion, 2003
Training in south Wales during his time with the Alessio team shortly after winning Paris-Roubaix.
Facing a grilling from CW scribe Alasdair Fotheringham.
Sporting a very fetching pair of Argyle leg warmers.
The 2008 Tour de France was a tough race for Backstedt, who later finished outside the time limit on stage seven.
Backstedt and David Millar lift Christian Vande Velde aloft after winning the team time trial at the 2008 Giro d?Italia.
On the attack in the Swedish national champion?s jersey during stage six of the 2008 Giro.
Backstedt crashed and broke his collarbone in Qatar in 2008, but was back on the turbo within days in a bid to keep his Classics preparation on track.
Checking out the cobbles, his favoured territory.
In Revolution action.
Resplendent in his national champion?s jersey. Backstedt may be Swedish, but British cycling fans have taken him to their hearts.
Magnus Backstedt: Rider Profile
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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.