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Pernille Mathiesen retires due to mental health struggles and an eating disorder

'It’s now time to find joy in other things in life, because nothing is worth not being happy,' says Mathiesen

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Danish rider Pernille Mathiesen has decided to end her professional career in order to focus on her mental and physical wellbeing.

In a brave and deeply honest post on her Instagram account the 24-year-old opened up about her current situation and her need to “find joy in other things” in life after having the courage to discuss her battles with mental health and an eating disorder.

“I have decided to stop my career as a professional cyclist, after a long time not finding joy and motivation in riding my bike at professional level,” Mathiesen wrote in an Instagram post.

“I had a hope that it would be a period of time and that the joy and motivation would come back, but that’s not the case. I’ve also been struggling with mental health and an eating disorder because of the massive focus on body composition there is in the sport. It’s been a really hard decision to take. Cycling always been a huge part of my life and identity. I started racing when I was 8 years old and been ongoing for 16 years.”

A highly talented junior, with a silver medal in the time trial the World Championships in 2014, Mathiesen came through the ranks with Team BMS BIRN in 2016 and signed for another Danish squad, Virtu Cycling Women in 2017. She then moved to Team Sunweb and in 2018 and spent three years on the squad before joining Jumbo Visma’s women’s team last year.

That deal only lasted a single season and Mathiesen moved to Cofidis at the start of 2022. She only started two one-day races this season. In her statement the Danish rider also talked with pride about achieving her goals of racing for some of the biggest teams in the world and the experiences that she had gone through. Cofidis has agreed to end Mathiesen’s contract a year earlier than planned.

“I’ve been professional for 6 years, on my absolutely dream teams… Virtu, Sunweb, Jumbo-Visma and Cofidis and I am thankful for all the experiences I got and all the people I’ve meet,” she said.

A strong time trialist, and well respected teammate, Mathiesen thanked her current team but decided that it was the right decision to take a step back and focus on her own personal health.

“I am proud of my achievements, my results through the years and I am really proud of this decision I took to focus on my overall health. I also want to thank Team Cofidis for their understanding and handling of this situation. I signed a 2 years contract with the team in September and breaking the contract with a great team before time haven’t been easy. It’s now time to find joy in other things in life, because nothing is worth not being happy.”

Friends within the peloton and fellow riders were quick to rally around Mathiesen on social media almost immediately after she shared her news.

Juliette Labous, of team DMS, wrote on Instagram: ” We will miss you! Pleased to have met you thanks to cycling and good luck in what’s next.”

Team DSM followed with: “Everyone in the team wishes you the best of luck for what’s next Pernille!”

 

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