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Lisa Brennauer closed out her glittering career on home soil Sunday with the European road race championships.
The German track and road star was just pipped to a final podium spot in the sprint to the line by Rachele Barbieri, who continued to sprint after leading out her teammate Elisa Balsamo.
It capped off a busy and emotional two weeks in Munich — which is just over an hour from her hometown of Kempten — that saw her take gold with her teammates on the track in the team pursuit and take silver in the individual pursuit.
While getting a bronze medal in the road race would have been a nice cherry on top, having one final hit out in front of home crowds was the best way she could think of calling time on her career.
“For me, it was definitely the perfect ending. Anyway, I’m happy that I was able to choose the end of my career myself, that it wasn’t imposed on me by anyone. And choosing this place here for the European Championships in Munich, in Bavaria, so close to my home, is something very special for me,” she told German publication Deutschlandfunk.
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The race proved to be a hugely aggressive one with most nations, including Germany, looking to go on the attack in an effort to get rid of top sprinters Lorena Wiebes and Elisa Balsamo. Brennauer has a strong sprint on her, but she was always going to struggle to match Wiebes and Balsamo in a straight run to the line.
Usually, riders are quite keen to get to the team bus or van pretty quickly after a race finish but Brennauer was happy to stick around and enjoy the atmosphere. She teared up as she watched a tribute to her career on the big screen at the finish and was greeted by huge cheers from the home crowd.
“I couldn’t have imagined a better place to end my career. It feels right,” she said. “We had our sights set on a medal, unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out, but we’re still satisfied with the outcome of the race. It was very emotional at the finish line. The whole team hugged me, a few tears flowed. It will also be a while before I get there before I realize it’s over now.”
Brennauer’s road career stretches back to 2007 when she raced with the Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung, like many of the country’s top riders. In that time, she’s racked up an impressive palmarès that was crowned with her individual time trial world title in 2014.
She has also won four team time trial world titles on the road and helped Germany to gold in the mixed team relay last season. If that wasn’t enough, Brennauer has four world titles on the track.
During her time in the peloton, women’s cycling has changed immeasurably from where it was when she started.
“This year you noticed that the Tour de France in particular was a really big step forward. Cycling has developed tremendously in the women’s sector. There are always further and next steps forward,” she said.