'I feel like I'm in a never-ending downward spiral': Marlen Reusser says burnout behind Worlds time trial abandon

Swiss rouleur says "it wasn't a mechanical problem, it was just me"

Marlen Reusser at the World Championships
(Image credit: Getty Images/Dario Belingheri)

Marlen Reusser has said she feels like she is in a "never-ending downward spiral", after she abandoned the World Championships elite women's time trial partway through.

The Swiss rider, the winner of the time trial at the recent Tour de France Femmes, climbed off her bike before the second intermediate time check on Thursday, later citing burnout as the reason behind the decision.

On television, she was shown easing up, shaking her head, before getting off her TT bike and sitting on the grass verge. She was one of the favourites for the event, which was won by Chloé Dygert of the United States.

"I had to give up... It wasn't a mechanical problem, it was just me," Reusser told DirectVelo later on Thursday.

"It's a special situation. I've been cycling for a long time. This is my seventh World Championships. Since I've been cycling, I've always raced with passion. My life revolves around cycling. I love what I do, I love this lifestyle and I find a lot of positives in it. But it also costs me a lot of energy. 

"Last year was very difficult for me. I was ill and didn't feel well for a long time. I cut two weeks off during the winter break, but then it started up again very quickly. 2023 has been a great year for me so far. But from the Tour de Suisse onwards, it just wasn't the same. Even though I won the race, I immediately had to refocus on the Tour de France. I didn't have time to catch my breath. Then I had to do the Tour and the World Championship in quick succession. I didn't even have time to enjoy the various victories."

Reusser has had her most successful year-to-date with her trade team, SD Worx. She won Gent-Wevelgem, stages of Itzulia and the Tour, and the Tour de Suisse overall. she has also been a key part of the squad as Lotte Kopecky and Demi Vollering have dominated other events. She also won the mixed relay team time trial at the Worlds last week, crashing in the process.

"Since the Tour, I feel I need time to breathe and rediscover my desire to go out and win," Reusser continued. "It's a bit like preparing for an exam. There's all the preparation, the stress of D-Day, and when it's done, you relax. And I need that moment of relaxation.

"But instead, I feel like I'm caught up in a never-ending downward spiral. I had this feeling for the first time four weeks ago. But with the support of Swiss Cycling, the sponsors and so on, I just had to keep going. That's why I came to the Worlds, even though I knew it wasn't going to work out. I tried to get my head back on straight, but it wasn't going well today, just as it hasn't been going well since the start of this World Championship.

"On this individual time trial, as soon as I tried to put it right, I felt that it wasn't possible. I couldn't accelerate. So I decided to stop. I wasn't ready to race that time trial. I had no desire to do it. The moment I put my foot down, I told myself it probably wasn't a good idea... But I wanted to do it. I know it's not cool for Eddy, my trainer, for everyone, all those who have put so much energy into me. But I accept this decision. I need a break. I'm not a machine. Cycling has so many great things to offer, so many great races, so many Classics."

The Swiss rider is not the first professional cyclist to suffer from burnout, with Tom Dumoulin, Marcel Kittel and Pete Kennaugh among those who cited it as a reason for pausing or stopping their careers.

Reusser is currently on the start list for the elite women's road race on Sunday.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.