There was a bit of surprising news from the world of pro cycling yesterday when former Tour de France champion Andy Shleck announced his retirement from the sport. The 29-year old rider from Luxembourg sustained a knee injury in a crash early on in this year’s Tour, and he cites persistent issues with that injury as the reason for his premature departure from cycling.
Over the past decade, Shleck has been a prominent figure in the sport, routinely competing for a win at the Tour de France. In 2010, he finished second behind Alberto Contador, but when the Spaniard tested positive for a banned substance, Andy was awarded the win. While it is the biggest victory on his resume, the fact that he did not win the race out on the road has somewhat tainted the win.
In 2012, Schleck suffered a major injury while riding in the Critérium du Dauphiné. It took him a year to recover from that crash, but he returned to ride hard in the 2013 Tour, finishing 13th overall. He had hoped to return to form this year, but a crash in London on the third stage sent him home early.
The medical report on Schleck’s knee says that his ligaments are healing as expected, but he continues to have issues with the damage done to the cartilage. The continued pain that he is experiencing will keep him from cycling at a competitive level again.
As a fan of the sport, I have to say that I’ll miss seeing Andy in the field. He was always a gritty competitor who could climb well in the mountains and push the top riders of the sport to their limits. I rooted for him to win when he was amongst the contenders, and I’m sad to see him bow out of the sport when he clearly has some good riding years ahead of him. 29 is not old by cycling standards, and with his experience and skill, he could have helped lead a team in any of the classic cycling races.
He will be missed.
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