Double Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder has announced his retirement at 40 years old.
The Belgian Classics specialist turned pro with the Vlaanderen-T-Interim team in 2002, going on to ride for some of the most iconic outfits in the sport, including US Postal Service, Quick-Step and Vacansoleil-DCM.
Most memorably in his career Devolder, who currently rides for Corendon-Circus, took back-to-back wins in the Tour of Flanders in 2008 and 2009.
Devolder told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws: “I have always liked to race and I’ve tried to do it for as long as possible at the highest possible level, even though my environment pointed towards the end.
“But last summer I turned 40. It’s time to say goodbye and start something else. I can’t go on forever.
“The decision to stop is now easier for me than a few years ago.”
Devolder took 17 wins over his 18-season career, including the two Tours of Flanders, two Belgian National Time Trial titles, and two Belgian National Road Race jerseys.
In 2019 he joined Mathieu van der Poel’s Corendon-Circus team, where he saw out his last season of racing, finishing at the Ronde van Zeeland last month.
He added: “I can look back on a beautiful and successful career.
“If I can choose one triumph, then certainly my first victory in the Tour of Flanders. That was the ultimate dream. When I crossed the finish line, that was something very special.
“I don’t think I’ll ever experience such a kick in my life.”
“I can look back on a beautiful and successful career. I won my favourite race twice, the Tour of Flanders, and became Belgian champion.”
Devolder said he had planned to retire in 2018, but he received a call from Corendon-Circus boss Christoph Roodhoft with an offer to ride for Van der Poel.
But Devolder admitted his missed fighting for his own victories, eventually deciding to leave the sport.