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By VeloNews Interactive
Belgian cycling great Johan Museeuw has announced plans to retire from the sport next spring, ending a 16-year career that has seen the “Lion of Flanders” win Paris-Roubaix three times.
Museeuw inked an agreement this week to stay with his Quick Step–Davitamon team, but only through the first part of the 2004 season, when the 37-year-old will retire from the sport.
According to a press release issued by Quick Step on Wednesday, Museeuw reached his decision at a meeting organised by the team in Brussels this week. Museeuw’s career will end with the GP Escaut – Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, scheduled for April 14, 2004, the Wednesday after Paris-Roubaix.
“Next season I’ll probably start things off, like last year, in Mallorca,” he said. “For my farewell I chose l’Escaut because I want to end my career in Belgium surrounded by my supporters.”
Museeuw’s career had stalled of late because he has been questioned by police in Belgium about the traffic of banned doping products. But the news of his decision to continue – even for a limited portion of the season – will be a cause for celebration in Belgium where he is regarded second in popularity only to Eddy Merckx.
Museeuw will attend Thursday’s unveiling of the route for the 2004 Tour de France in the company of teammate Richard Virenque, who this year won a record-equaling sixth polka dot jersey for the race’s best climber.