Marcel Kittel Officially Retires From Pro Cycling

The German sprinter said he “lost all motivation to keep torturing myself on a bike.”

AFP/ |

  • 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 realised 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.

marcel kittel

Kittel, in the green Quick-Step Floors kit, winning Stage 11 of the 2017 Tour de France, his fifth stage victory that year.
Bryn Lennon Getty Images

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:


View this post on Instagram


Dear friends, fans and companions, I would like to tell you all today that I am ending my career as a pro cyclist. I have thought long and hard about this decision and discussed it with my closest friends and my family. This decision process has not been a quick one, but has taken place over a longer time: During my nearly 20 year sports career there have been not only incredible successes but also difficult times. I have always been one to openly question and reflect when such things happen, so that I can learn and become better. That, together with the people around me, has made me the successful athlete that I now am, but this method has also taught to leave my old ways and learn new ones. I know that there is much more than just sport, for example my own future family. Recently the thought on this future without cycling has grown, as has the awareness of the sacrifices that such a beautiful but also very difficult sport like cycling brings with it. The biggest question of the last few months was: Can I and do I want to continue to make the sacrifices needed to be a world-class athlete? And my answer is: No, I do not want that any more, because I have always found the limitations on a top athlete as an increasing loss of quality of life. That is why I have a very happy and proud that at this point in my life I can make the decision to follow my heart in a new direction. At this point I would like to thank all the people who have supported me in my career: my former teammates, my trainers, my friends, and my family, but above all my fans for the incredible support in the last few years. I look forward to the future with much anticipation. Yours, Marcel

A post shared by Marcel Kittel (@marcelkittel) on

“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.”

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