Marcel Kittel has announced his retirement from cycling, nearly four months after quitting WorldTour team Katusha-Alpecin.
The german sprinter revealed his decision in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, saying he had "lost all motivation to keep torturing myself on a bike."
The 31-year-old recorded countless victories, including 14 stages of the Tour de France, but suffered a decline in form after moving to Katusha-Alpecin ahead of the 2018 season.
He won only two stages of Tirreno-Adriatico in 2018, and in 2019 only managed a victory at one-day race Trofeo Palma in February.
In May, it was announced that Kittel had quit Katusha-Alpecin and would be taking a break from cycling.
"The sport and the world you live in are defined by pain," Kittel said.
"You don't have time for family and friends, and then there's the perpetual tiredness and routine.
"As a cyclist, you are on the road for 200 days of the year. I didn't want to watch my son grow up via Skype."
Following the news breaking, Kittel uploaded a longer statement to his website, where he shared further details on his decision to climb off the bike for good.
"This decision process has not been a quick one, but has taken place over a longer time. During my nearly 20 year sports career there have been not only incredible successes but also difficult times. I have always been one to openly question and reflect when such things happen, so that I can learn and become better.
"That, together with the people around me, has made me the successful athlete that I now am, but this method has also taught to leave my old ways and learn new ones. I know that there is much more than just sport, for example my own future family.
"Recently the thought on this future without cycling has grown, as has the awareness of the sacrifices that such a beautiful but also very difficult sport like cycling brings with it. The biggest question of the last few months was 'Can I and do I want to continue to make the sacrifices needed to be a world-class athlete?' And my answer is: No, I do not want that any more, because I have always found the limitations on a top athlete as an increasing loss of quality of life.
"That is why I have a very happy and proud that at this point in my life I can make the decision to follow my heart in a new direction.
"At this point I would like to thank all the people who have supported me in my career. My former teammates, my trainers, my friends, and my family, but above all my fans for the incredible support in the last few years."
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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