2018, the year of the retiree
Phil Deignan is the latest rider to call curtains on his career at the conclusion of 2018.
This year sees several above-the-title stars as well as some notable support actors riding into the sunset. The 35-year-old Deignan, who is married to racer Lizzie Deignan, confirmed his retirement via Twitter. The Irishman raced with Ag2r La Mondiale, RadioShack, UnitedHealthcare, Cérvelo, and Team Sky in a career that included a Vuelta a España stage win.
“With a combination of sadness but also a huge amount of pride I would like to announce my retirement from professional cycling,” Deignan wrote. “As a 15-year-old riding on the road around Donegal I never dreamed that I would go on to make the sport I love my job for 14 years. There have been lots of ups and downs, but to be able to finish my career healthy and at the top of my sport with the best team in the world, makes me grateful and proud.”
Several big names in the European peloton as well as the U.S. domestic circuit are putting an end to their respective careers. ProCyclingStats lists 44 riders retiring at the end of 2018 on the men’s side plus a few key names in the women’s peloton. Here’s a look at some of the top names:
Damiano Cunego (ITA): 37, turned pro in 2002
Career wins: 44, including three Giri di Lombardia, Amstel Gold, stages at Vuelta and Giro, overall Giro 2004
The so-called “Little Prince” started off so promisingly. His Giro win in 2004 ahead of teammate Gilberto Simoni was packed with intrigue and seemed to harken greatness. Instead, it turned out to be a one-off, at least in terms of grand tour prowess. He hit sixth overall at the 2011 Tour, but never reached another podium following his Giro win. Cunego later emerged as the rider his DNA seemed destined for, and became a puncheur par excellence. He won Lombardia three times and one Amstel Gold Race. He never won Liège-Bastogne-Liège nor the world title, but Cunego left the sport with his held high with four seasons with Vini Fantini.
Simon Gerrans (AUS): 38, turned pro in 2004
Career wins: 33, including four times overall at the Tour Down Under. He counted two monuments, with Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Milano-Sanremo. He won two Tour de France stages and held the yellow jersey in 2013.
“Gerro” leaves behind a tremendous palmares that reflected his professionalism and attention to detail. Gerrans was able to squeeze the maximum from his compact frame, and nearly won the world title. His victory at MSR stands alone as one of the smartest and most proficient wins and Liège was perfect execution. The consummate professional, Gerrans probably could have raced another year or two, but he didn’t want to. He’s set to start a new career and will take part in an internship with Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs.
Mathew Hayman (AUS): 40, turned pro in 2000, his last race will be the TDU in 2019
Career wins: 3, including the 2016 Paris-Roubaix
Hayman only won three races during his long career, but one of those was a doozy. His 2016 Roubaix win proved that persistence and determination can pay off on the cobbles. Roubaix is the lone race of the year where tenacity and patience sometimes delivers the rare one-off winner. Hayman was a cobblestone journeyman, always banging close to the front group but never quite making the podium. The stars aligned in 2016 when he beat Tom Boonen to win his cobblestone trophy.
Sylvain Chavanel (FRA): 39, turned pro in 2000
Career wins: 45, with three stages at the Tour de France
Chavanel was the darling of France in a sweet run that went into the late aughts, winning three stages of the Tour. “Chava” was a sure bet on breakaways and could put in a strong time trial. Perhaps he deserved more on the cobbles, with a second at the 2011 Ronde, but Chavanel was one of France’s last of the old guard who won the French time trial title six times.
Giorgia Bronzini (ITA): 35, turned pro in 2003
Pro wins: 64, including two world titles
One of the most versatile riders in the peloton, she was a prolific track racer before emerging as one of the stars. Back-to-back world titles in 2010 and 2011, 10 wins on the Route de France Féminine, and eight on the Giro Rosa confirmed her status. Since 2004, she won at least one race per season. With retirement, she will work as a sport director with Trek in 2019.
Megan Guarnier (USA): 33, turned pro in 2010
Pro wins: 19, including Giro Rosa overall, and Amgen Tour of California overall.
One of the most successful U.S. racers at the international level, Guarnier confirmed her retirement with the world championships in Innsbruck. She won a breakout victory at Strade Bianche in 2015 and hit a peak in 2016, with overall victories at Giro Rosa and the Amgen Tour of California to end the season ranked No. 1.
Danny Pate (USA): 39, turned pro in 2000
Pro wins: 1
Pate saw the good, bad, and ugly of professional cycling during the arc of his career. After a rookie season with Saeco in Europe in 2000, Pate won the 2001 U23 world time trial title and chose to race domestically until returning to Europe in 2007 with Slipstream. That was followed by one season with High Road and four with Team Sky, including racing the Tour with Sky in 2014. He was third in a Tour stage in 2008 and finished out his career with three seasons with Rally.
Brad Huff (USA): 39, turned pro in 2006
Pro wins: 3
One of the most consistent sprinters on the U.S. scene, Huff took two well-deserved national crit titles and won scores of other races on the domestic circuit. He spent his career on three teams — TIAA-Cref, Jelly Belly, and Rally — and raced across Europe, the U.S. and beyond.
Franco Pellizotti (ITA): 40, turned pro in 2001
Pro wins: 12
Pellizotti pedaled too close to the sun and got burned with his biological passport violation with a two-year ban that erased his most notable results, including third at the 2009 Giro and the King of the Mountain prize at the 2009 Tour. “Il delfino” sheared his trademark blonde locks in his return in 2012 with Androni, and promptly won the Italian national title. He finished out his career in the WorldTour with Bahrain-Merida, completing both the Tour and Vuelta.
Igor Antón (SPA): 35, turned pro in 2005
Pro wins: 14
Antón was a homegrown product of Spain’s Basque Country and won mountain stages at both the Vuelta and Giro, including the Zoncolan stage in the Dolomites in 2011. His high-water mark came in 2010, when he was close to winning the overall at the Vuelta before he crashed heavily. He raced for Movistar and Dimension Data following the demise of Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2013.
David López (SPA): 37, turned pro in 2003
Pro wins: 3
A solid all-rounder, López won a stage at the 2010 Vuelta and evolved into a top domestique. He joined Sky in 2013 and helped Chris Froome win the yellow jersey that year.
Grégory Rast (SUI): 38, turned pro in 2000
Pro wins: 6 wins, including 2 Swiss national title
Rast was the consummate team player and rode 51 monuments during his career, including finishing 14 of the 15 editions of Roubaix he started.
Bram Tankink (NED): 39, turned pro in 2000
Pro wins: 2
A stalwart of the Dutch peloton, Tankink was a loyal team helper who was often in breakaways or pacing leaders during the 17 grand tours in which he raced.
Jérémy Roy (FRA): 35, turned pro in 2003
Pro wins: 4
One of France’s most reliable domestiques of the old-school variety, Roy raced his entire career with the FDJ franchise. It’s no surprise that his four career wins came on French roads. He raced 15 grand tours, including nine consecutive Tours from 2008-2016.
Oscar Pujol (SPA): 35, turned pro in 2008
Pro wins: 4
The Spanish journeyman only raced three seasons at the WorldTour and spent much of the past decade on a worldwide odyssey. He never quite got his chance again in Europe, but he raced across the world with many top results on the Asian circuit.
Przemyslaw Niemiec: 38, turned pro in 2002
Pro wins: 13
One of Poland’s most consistent and durable pros, he rode the last eight years of his career in the WorldTour. His biggest wins were a stage victory at the 2014 Vuelta and the overall at the 2009 Route du Sud.