'I was sleeping for 15 hours a day’: Matti Breschel announces retirement amid struggle with arthritis

The EF Education First rider says it’s a relief to stop racing

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Matti Breschel has announced his decision to retire from the professional peloton amid his struggles with arthritis.

EF Education First rider Breschel said he has been struggling to perform as medicine he was taking for a psoriatic arthritis condition caused him to sleep for 15 hours a day.

The 34-year-old Dane announced his retirement from racing on Monday (August 12), saying the decision was a relief.

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“For me, it didn’t make sense to have a disease like that and keep on going as a professional bike rider," Breschel said.

"Especially the last two stages of the Giro d’Italia I rode. I was in a lot of pain and I thought to myself, ‘if I have to stop the Giro, I have to stop as a professional bike rider’ and that was when I took the final decision on stage four, but I had been thinking about it a lot between February until May.

“It was a big relief to finally take the decision to retire, because I was struggling a lot to find good form, and the medicine I was taking really knocked me out. I was sleeping for 15 hours a day, it was super tiring, especially for the head.”

Beschel turned pro with CSC in 2005, also riding for Rabobank, Tinkoff, Astana and finally joining EF Education First in 2018.

Career highlights include a stage win at the Vuelta a España, top-10s in the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, two podium finishes in the World Championships, and a Danish national title in 2009.

Breschel has struggling through psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes joints to become inflamed, stiff and painful.

The long-term condition, which develops in people with the skin condition psoriasis, can get progressively worse with a risk that joints could be permanently damaged.

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EF Education First sports director Charly Wegelius said: “We know he has a lot of passion and sometimes people can be a victim of that and not see things for what they are.

“But I think he’s tried so hard to deal with the sickness he has and to work through it, but eventually he just looked at it and said ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and as sad as that is having to deal with a sickness, it’s at least allowed him a few months for that to settle in his head.”

Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said: “Matti was great to have on the team. He’s an intelligent and kind person as well as an incredibly sharp racer. But I’m confident his next chapter will be even more interesting than his last.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.