Annemiek van Vleuten will retire at the end of 2023

'I’m sure I’ll stop with a little tear in my eye, because I love this sport so much,' says Dutch rider.

Photo: Getty Images

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Annemiek van Vleuten has announced that she will retire at the end of the 2023 season.

The Dutch rider confirmed that she would remain with Team Movistar for the last year of her career after signing a contract extension. She will officially hang up her wheels after a 16-year career at the end of next season.

“My career, my driving force as a professional athlete, has always been about improving, not winning. Refining every physical ability or mental aspect on the bike, both as an individual and together with the team I’m part of, is what really gives me energy,” van Vleuten said in a press release issued Wednesday.

“I’d like to contribute a bit more to the team’s improvement, just like I’ve done with the Movistar Team for the past two years, in 2023. To be part of it is why I wanted to re-sign for another season. We’re on the way up, we’re developing, and it’d be sad to stop halfway through that development process. Two years feels like too short, while three is a nicer period. I’m fully confident the organisation will continue to improve in 2024 and the years after that.”

Van Vleuten ,39, has enjoyed a glittering career with three elite world titles, an Olympic gold medal in 2021 in the time trial and victories in almost every major women’s one-day race. Twice a winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche, she has been a dominant force in women’s cycling for almost a decade.

“Individual-wise, I didn’t feel like stopping right now – I’m still super motivated, while also aware that there will be a moment when I’ll have to stop. And it suits me better to stop when I’m still at my highest level, playing the game at the front in the biggest events. I just want to finish on a high, and doing it with this wonderful group of people feels like the right thing to do,” she said.

“Some people will surely wonder why I’m retiring before the Paris Olympics. For me, this, my career, has always been about finding motivating, long-term projects, like the Movistar Team and every organisation I’ve been part of, that I can invest my energy in. It’s not strictly about specific goals or races. It doesn’t look like the Alpe d’Huez is going to feature on the 2024 course, either (laughs), but as you can understand, that’s not the most important reason.”

Van Vleuten still has major objectives to achieve in the sport, especially over the coming weeks as she targets the Giro d’Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes, which starts at the end of July. She will also target the road world championships later this autumn. Her hope is to retire at the peak of her powers.

“The main reason, as I explained, to retire in 2023 is to do so while on top of my game, to round out that improvement process we and the team took up in 2021, and look for new challenges in life. I’m sure I’ll stop with a little tear in my eye, because I love this sport so much, but I’d like to leave cycling, the ‘professional athlete’ part of it, at the top.”

More to follow…

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