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- Marcel Kittel has retired from pro cycling.
- The 31-year-old split with his Katusha–Alpecin team earlier this year, intending to take a break from the sport.
- Kittel said the decision to retire for good came after he realized the toll cycling has taken on his personal life.
German cycling star Marcel Kittel announced his immediate retirement from the sport in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel on Friday.
Kittel, 31, split with his Katusha–Alpecin team in May, saying then that he would take a break from cycling amid a rapid decline in form since 2017. Now announcing his decision to retire for good, Kittel said he had “lost all motivation to keep torturing myself on a bike.”
One of the world’s best sprinters at the height of his career, Kittel has 14 Tour de France stage victories to his name. As recently as 2017 he looked to be in top shape, winning five stages in that year’s Tour alone. (He also has four career stage wins at the Giro d’Italia and one at the Vuelta a España.) Yet his star began to fall after an ill-fated move to Katusha that August.
Kittel said he felt no trust on the Swiss team—“there was only pressure, pressure, pressure,” he said—and parted with the outfit by mutual consent ahead of this year’s Tour of California. He had intended to take a temporary hiatus, but said he has since come to realize the negative effect cycling had on his life, and decided to give it up for good.
“The sport and the world you live in are defined by pain,” he said. “You don’t have time for family and friends, and then there’s the perpetual tiredness and routine.”
Kittel addressed his fans directly in an Instagram post on Friday:
“As a cyclist, you are on the road for 200 days of the year,” Kittel said in his interview. “I didn’t want to watch my son grow up via Skype.”