Tejay van Garderen will retire from professional cycling this weekend, saying that he is unable to ride with the best in the world anymore.
In an unexpected announcement, the EF Education-Nippo rider confirmed that this weekend’s US National Championships will be his final race of a professional career that began in 2008.
The 32-year-old most recently rode the Giro d’Italia in support of Hugh Carthy, and it was during the Grand Tour that he came to the decision to bring his career to an end.
“The honest truth is that I don’t feel super effective as a bike racer anymore,” he told his team’s website.
“Once your ability starts to be less than it was, you have to find a way to make yourself effective.
“I was really motivated by the rise of Hugh Carthy, and I wanted to be able to mentor him and help him.
“I said, ‘Okay, I’m still a good climber. Maybe I can stay with him in the high mountains and give him support.’
“But the truth is I wasn’t able to just climb into a group of the 20 best anymore, to be able to give a leader like Hugh support in the high mountains.
“So I was riding around thinking, well, what do I do? How am I effective in the race? I really took a good, honest look in the mirror and said, 'Well, if you have eight people to fill a roster, I could name eight people that would serve a purpose better than I could serve that purpose'.”
Van Garderen twice finished fifth at the Tour de France and back in 2012 was identified as the most likely threat to Bradley Wiggins’ successful attempt to win the race.
The American won a stage of the Giro in 2017 and also won the 2013 Tour of California. In total, he claimed 16 professional wins.
He admitted that he didn’t perhaps reach the heights expected of him, but he can leave the sport satisfied with what he did.
He added: “I can understand why a lot of people are probably going to be left wanting more because they saw the results I achieved at a really young age.
“I stayed consistent for a number of years at a high level, but I never really broke through to that next level. That’s what people wanted to see. I understand that. That’s okay for them to want because people like their winners.
“I’m extremely proud of everything I accomplished in my career. I know personally how hard I worked to achieve what I’ve achieved, and I know what level I was able to hit. Results aside, I know that I got the best out of myself.
“I wish there were times that I had got to that level just a bit more often or more frequently. But, I know what level I was able to hit. I’m certainly happy with what I’ve done.”
The US Nationals are taking place in Knoxville, Tennessee where Van Garderen will be aiming to claim the stars and stripes for the first time.
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