Former Team Sky rider Beñat Intxausti has retired after battling the Epstein-Barr virus for the past four years.
The 33-year-old will call time on a twelve-year career in the peloton that has seen him also race for Euskaltel-Euskadi and Movistar, then finishing with a final season at Pro-Continental outfit Euskadi Basque Country – Murias.
Since contracting the Epstein-Barr virus, also called mononucleosis, in 2016 during his first year at Sky, the Basque rider is said to have not “recovered the pedal stroke” that saw him pick up numerous impressive results during his previous five-year stint at Movistar.
In 2013, Intxausti won stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia on his way to finishing eighth on GC, 10 minutes behind winner Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo). Later that year he took the overall victory at the Tour of Beijing, beating Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) by 10 seconds.
Intxausti won a second Giro stage in 2015, beating Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren), and then finished fourth on GC at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
His three years at Sky saw Intxausti start only 11 races, totalling only 22 race days between 2016 and 2018.
Things didn’t get much better after transferring to Euskadi-Murias, only managing 38 days of racing of which he had 14 DNFs, according to Marca.
This apparently spelled the end for Intxausti, who will reveal more about his decision to retire and what comes next at a press conference in Bilbao, Spain, on Monday January 20.
Mark Cavendish has also battled the Epstein-Barr virus over recent years. Only in May 2019 did the Manxman clear the threshold for having beaten the illness after contracting it in 2017.
Esteban Chaves is another rider who has been affected by EBV, having fallen ill at the 2018 Giro d’Italia and fighting back to try and regain his form. A year later an emotional Chaves crossed the line in second on stage 17 of the Giro marking a return to form, calling it a “beautiful” result.