Pete Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe) made a “brave” decision to stop his racing career early to focus on himself and his family, say fellow British riders.
Kennaugh, Olympic champion and two-time stage winner in the Critérium du Dauphiné, took n indefinite break from cycling last week, saying he needed to “rediscover happiness, motivation and enthusiasm.”
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“Brave is the right word. It’s easy to get drawn in and carry on when you’re not enjoying it,” Owain Doull (Sky) told Cycling Weekly. “When you stop enjoying it it’s the best thing to do.
“I’m super proud of him. It’s not an easy thing to do when you’ve been doing it your whole life, for Pete since he was seven or eight years old. It’s a brave thing to step away. To put your mental health and happiness first.”
The 29-year-old also took a break in 2018 because he “felt quite down.” He raced a full season afterwards, which included winning the Grand Prix Cerami. Five days ago, just after a few races this 2019 season, he pulled the brakes completely.
“Pete’s not someone who’s just going through the motions, that was maybe one of the factors. He’s been a British champion, Olympic champion, stages in the Dauphiné… Won a lot of big races,” Doull said.
“If you’re not getting that same satisfaction out of it, being at that level that you know you’re capable of and you enjoy racing at the front and winning… That’s almost like a testament to Pete’s character, that if he’s not at his best or 100 per cent then he doesn’t want to do it. And that’s a good sign.”
“The main thing is happiness in life, everyone wants to be happy and live their lives,” Adam Blythe (Lotto-Soudal) explained. “I think Pete was struggling and just wanted to be happy again with his family.
“It was a brave decision. There’s a lot more to life than just sport. For Pete, being a cyclist doesn’t make who he is. For a lot of people it’s that way.
“If you have families you have to make tough decisions. For everyone in life, happiness is something you can’t buy. You might be the richest guy in the world, but if you are unhappy then it doesn’t make a difference.”
Doull and Blythe both said that all riders struggle at times in tough periods. It can cause doubts about what they are doing in a focused and high-tension sport.
“At the end of the day, it’s a hard sport, you race a lot, you’re away a lot, especially with Pete having a young family,” Doull added.
“It looks like an easy life, but it’s far from it. If you asked any pro, everyone would have their bad periods or question whether they want to carry on doing this any more.”