Stuart O'Grady retires
23 July 2013
CYCLING - ROAD: After 19 years of professional racing Australian cycling icon Stuart O'Grady has called it a day.
The six-time Olympian was due to end his decorated career next year but after a breakthrough Tour de France for his Orica-GreenEDGE team O'Grady announced his retirement on Tuesday, a day after finishing his record-equalling 17th Tour.
O'Grady, 39, played a key role in GreenEDGE's first Tour de France stage win to Simon Gerrans on stage three, and in the Australian team's rise to the coveted yellow jersey after a stunning stage four team time trial performance.
"I've always wanted my career to end with something truly special and this year's Tour de France has given me that," O'Grady said.
"We've had a great race, and I'm really proud of what we accomplished. Winning a stage and standing on the podium with all my teammates after the team time trial in Nice was a dream come true for me this late in my career
"To be able to defend the yellow jersey for Simon and Daryl (Impey) was special. I'm extremely happy to have had a chance to do that one more time before I retired.
"Having done all this, I'm happy to say that I've had my run.
"Originally, I wanted to keep going, but I've kept thinking that this is the year. We reached big goals as a team at the Tour, and I'm proud to finish my career after an amazing experience with an incredible team.
"I'm turning 40 very soon, and I've realised there are things in my life that I want to prioritise. My family has helped me make this decision. It's been 23 years of top level performing and 19 years of professional racing, so it's time to move on."
Australia's first Classics champion, six-time Olympian O'Grady won the revered Paris-Roubaix in 2007 to add to his gold medal in the men's madison at the 2004 Olympics with Graeme Brown.
He has ridden in the Tour de France every year since his debut in 1997 and this year equalled George Hincapie's record of 17 participations. O'Grady has finished cycling's greatest race 15 times.
He has enjoyed three Tour stage wins and nine days in the maillot jaune and finished second in the points classification in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2005. The inaugural Tour Down Under winner joined GreenEDGE in 2012 as a foundation rider.
GreenEDGE general manager Shayne Bannan paid tribute to O'Grady.
"His commitment to the sport and to his team has been immense," he said.
"He's been a huge resource and a fantastic rider for us to work with. To have that kind of dedication at this point in his career shows a lot about his character. He's a unique person and an incredible athlete. His experience and status in the peloton has been one of the key elements to our success."
"Bowing out after a legendary career like his has been a hard decision for him, but we're proud to say that he was part of starting up this team and set the bar for high ambitions from day one."