It’s the end of an era.
With the 2021 road season concluded after last week’s Ronde van Drenthe, cycling waves goodbye to some of the sport’s biggest names and most successful riders.
Among those hanging up their racing wheels this winter are two multiple world champions — one on the road and the other on the track — winners of some big classics, as well as some of cycling’s most experienced riders.
A few of those that are retiring will remain within the sport in some capacity, others will move on for pastures new and some we don’t yet know what their future will hold.
These are six of the big names retiring from professional cycling this year:
A lot of pros ending their careers this year 🚴♀️🚴♂️⌛️🏁
Here’s a salute to some prominent names 😘🌟👏👏 pic.twitter.com/iPAsUDcWUI
— pro cycling trumps (@procycletrumps) October 27, 2021
Anna van der Breggen
Highlights: Giro d’Italia Donne GC x3, Olympic Games road race x1, world championships road race x2, world championships time trial x1, Flèche Wallonne x7, Liège-Bastogne-Liège x2, Tour of Flanders x1.
Where next?: DS-ing for SD Worx
Anna van der Breggen’s retirement has been a long time coming. She announced that this would be her final season way back in May 2020 and she has stuck to that promise, despite missing some races this year due to struggles with form, riding out her career at the world championships last month.
During her 12-year career, van der Breggen has become one of the sport’s biggest names and has a palmarès that few can match. Perhaps her biggest achievement was becoming only the second rider to win the road race and time trial world titles in a single year.
Few riders get to decide when they call it quits on their career and van der Breggen has been able to do it while still at the top of her game. Planning her departure early means that she already knows what is coming next and that is sitting behind the steering wheel in the team car as a DS, something she’s tried out a couple of times already this season.
Highlights: Brabantse Pijl x1, Santos Women’s Tour Down Under GC x 1, U.S. national RR champion x1, wearing the pink jersey at Giro d’Italia Donne x2, 2nd at Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa.
Where next?: UCI rider rep, and TBC
Ruth Winder made the surprise announcement about her retirement in July, citing missing her family and friends as a major factor in her decision. Ultimately, it was the downtime enforced by COVID-19 that helped Winder to realize what she wanted to do.
Winder had the strength to win races, but she spent much of her career working in the service of others, often using her aggressive style of racing to deliver. She did rake in 17 wins during her career, not least the U.S. national title in 2019. She got to wear the stars and stripes for an extra season due to COVID-19 canceling the 2020 event.
Winder hasn’t announced her long-term plans post-racing career, but she has been voted in as one of two UCI rider representatives for next year, which will keep her in touch with cycling for a little bit longer.
Highlights: Track world titles x10 (several events), track European titles x8 (several events), Omloop Het Nieuwsblad x1, Gent-Wevelgem x1, Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne x1, Ladies Tour of Qatar GC x4.
Where next?: TBC
Kirsten Wild might be a Dutch name that gets lost in all the talk about Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten, but she is one of the most prolific riders in the road peloton and has an incredible record on the track. It is her super-fast finish, which was evident in her four overall wins at the Tour of Qatar, that has seen her to over 100 wins in her career.
Also read: Kristen Wild wins third Madison world title
Wild’s road career ended with a bit of a whimper after a COVID-19 positive forced her team out of the Simac Ladies Tour in August. However, the grand finale of her track career could hardly have gone better. She earned a final world title in the Madison at the Stab Vélodrome in Roubaix and took a bronze medal in the Points Race.
With so much effort going into the last year, including her build-up to the Olympic Games, Wild is hoping to enjoy retirement a little bit before she starts planning for the future. However, she has hinted at wanting to use her physical education qualifications at some point.
Highlights: TTT world title x5, Tour of California x1, German national RR champion x4, German national TT champion x4, Tour of Qatar x1.
What next?: Coaching young riders
Trixi Worrack brought to a close a 19-year career at Women’s Tour a couple of weeks ago. She had initially planned to do it at the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes at the start of October but injuries to teammates meant she had to hang on for a little bit longer before she could ride into the sunset.
Worrack has had an illustrious career that has brought her five world titles in the team time trial discipline and a string of national titles. In recent years, she has used her vast experience to work as a road captain and support some of her younger teammates.
She has had to overcome some tough times, including losing a kidney after a crash at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. After turning 40 this year, Worrack wants to retire to spend more time with her wife and child. Now that she has put professional racing behind her, she plans to coach younger riders and make use of the wealth of experience she has gained.
Today we’re celebrating an amazing teammate and rider who has had an incredible career!
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) October 9, 2021
Highlights: Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa x1, Durango-Durango x1, Tour de l’Ardèche x1, Women’s Herald Sun Tour x2.
What next?: Coaching
Lucy Kennedy’s retirement got off to a stuttering start after she was called back into action just 19 days after she hung up her racing wheels, but she’s past the point of no return now. Kennedy was actually relaxing with a bottle of beer when she got the late call up to the Women’s Tour and raced just two days before she stepped off for good.
Kennedy’s cycling career has been short as she only turned pro in 2018, but it has packed in plenty of highs and lows. She has won some of the sport’s biggest races, including San Sebastián in 2019, but she has also had to deal with multiple serious injuries.
Stepping into retirement is a chance for Kennedy to switch up her priorities and spend more time with family and friends. She is also set to return to her native Australia next month, provided all travel plans go as they should. Kennedy announced Wednesday that she would be taking up a coaching role with the Australian Cycling Academy.
Interview before today’s stage 2 of #WomensTour 👇
The comeback is since over with a DNF. Turns out it’s even harder, mentally, than I expected to get back into race mode, especially when it’s single digit temperature and raining sideways. Now 100% retired. https://t.co/nvlYnLl0st
— Lucy Kennedy (@lucyjkenn) October 5, 2021
Highlights: Track world title x1 (Madison), track European title x1 (Madison), Gent-Wevelgem x1, Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne x 1, Challenge by La Vuelta x2, Baloise Ladies Tour x1, Giro d’Italia Donne stages x3.
What next?: DS-ing with NXTG Racing
Jolien D’hoore’s career ended with perhaps one of her most painful results, both physically and metaphorically, as she rode to the finish of the first Paris-Roubaix Femmes outside the time limit after some big crashes. It was a difficult way to finish her career, but it also showed the grit and determination that has pushed her through her time as a professional rider.
D’hoore has spent her career splitting her time between the track and the road. She has taken a good medal haul from her time on the boards, including a world title in the Madison, but it is on the road where she has really flourished.
Home roads are where D’hoore excelled and she has been crowned Belgian national champion three times and been on the podium at the Tour of Flanders, as well as winning Gent-Wevelgem and De Panne. Now that she is no longer a racer, she will begin working with the young NXTG Racing squad as a DS.
Other retirees in 2021: Janneke Ensing, Karol Ann-Canuel, Emma White, Lauren Kitchen, Rozemarijn Ammerlaan, Anna Badegruber, Dani Christmas, Claudia Koster, Silje Mathisen, Sara Penton, Julia Soek, Maria Vittoria Sperotto, Nancy van der Burg, and Bryony van Velzen.