Britain’s Ian Stannard was a pro for 14 years, taking seven wins and doing a huge amount of work on the front of the peloton for his leaders in Grand Tours, but has announced that he has been forced to retire at the age of 33 after developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Stannard started his career in 2006 but took his biggest results in a Team Sky jersey, now Ineos Grenadiers; a team he joined at their inception in 2010.
His first career win came in 2011 at the Tour of Austria on stage five of the race, but he had to wait almost a year for his next win, which was the road race title at the British National Championships.
After that he won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad two years running, with 2015 being his most famous of victories, beating three Quick-Step riders, Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenburgh, to the line against the odds.
We take a look back through the lens at some of Stannard’s career highlights.
Stannard’s first win came in the shape of a team time trial at the 2010 Tour of Qatar, this was Sky Procycling’s second-ever win. The team would go on to take 22 wins in their debut season.
A few months later, Stannard managed to take third at the semi-Classic, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The conditions were horrific and only 26 riders finished.
The race was fought out between Stannard and two Dutchmen, Rick Flens, who was riding for Rabobank, and the winner on the day, Bobbie Traksel, who rode for Vacansoleil.
Stannard recalls the race today as “the worst conditions I’ve still ever raced in.”
Stannard’s first individual victory came in the 2011 Tour of Austria where he beat Gatis Smukulis, Stefan Denifl, Grégory Rast and Yannick Eijssen from a break. Here he is riding in that year’s Ghent-Wevelgem.
His second win came in the shape of the British National Championship road race title in 2012, which he won by over a minute to his then team-mate, Alex Dowsett with Russel Hampton of Raleigh-GAC taking third in Ampelforth.
The Essex-man was then selected to try and support Mark Cavendish in securing a road race gold medal in the London 2012 Olympics. The GB team failed to do as Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) took the win from a 26 man breakaway.
Sky, now Ineos Grenadiers, have become the dominant force in Grand Tours, and Stannard was a key part in that, supporting Chris Froome to five of his seven Grand Tour wins, including at the 2013 Tour de France (pictured).
Stannard then finally came good in the Classics after a number of solid results when he beat Greg Van Avermaet, now of CCC Team, in a two-up sprint to the line at the 2014 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with team-mate, Edvald Boasson Hagen taking third.
Then came 2015 and Stannard’s most famous win. Up against three Omega-Pharma – Quick-Step riders in the shape of Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh, Stannard managed to steal victory after riding two off the wheel and beating Terpstra in the sprint.
In 2015, Stannard came tantalisingly close to a Monument win when he took third in Paris-Roubaix behind Mat Hayman and Tom Boonen.
He didn’t get as close to winning the ‘Hell of the North’ again, which was surprising as it suited his characteristics perfectly.
He rode in support of Froome as well as Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates in the Rio 2016 Olympics road race but Team GB again missed out on gold with Thomas finishing 11th, Froome 12th and Yates 15th as Van Avermaet won.
2016 continued to throw up success for Stannard though, with his first win at the Tour of Britain. He took the win from the break, as was usual for him, but went solo ahead of Graham Briggs and Kristian House who sprinted for second.
In 2017 Stannard won a stage win from a late break at the Herald Sun Tour where he managed to beat Aaron Gate and Taco van der Hoorn on the final day of the race. His next best result that year was a fourth place in the team time trial at the Vuelta a España.
A year later and another solo victory came at the Tour of Britain. Again going solo from a break, Stannard won by just under a minute from powerhouse German rider, Nils Politt, and three minutes ahead of the rest of the break and four minutes to the peloton. This was Stannard’s last career victory.
Last year, Stannard was in the team that were the first to race in Ineos colours at the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire, which was won by his team-mate, Chris Lawless after he had put in yet another hard shift throughout the four days of racing.
Stannard’s final race came earlier this year in the Tour of Poland where he rode to try and support Richard Carapaz to overall victory before Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) went and took overall victory with an astonishing solo ride.