Marcel Kittel won’t race again

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Marcel Kittel has ended his career as a pro cyclist.

Last spring, Kittel ended his contract with Katusha and announced a break from pro cycling, but left the door open to return to the sport. This week, the German sprinter ended his career for good, first via an interview with Der Spiegel and then, on Friday, via his website and Instagram account.

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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

Kittel, 31, was the sport’s top sprinter across multiple seasons. He won 14 stages of the Tour de France, four stages of the Giro d’Italia, and five editions of the sprinter’s classic Scheldeprijs. He took 89 wins over his pro career. (Back when he announced his break, put together a gallery of his best moments.)

“As a cyclist, you are on the road for 200 days of the year,” he told Der Spiegel. “I didn’t want to watch my son grow up via Skype.”

After announcing his exit from Katusha in May, Kittel returned to the cycling circus at the Tour de France as an expert on German television.

“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,” he wrote.

“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.”

Kittel has not yet indicated what lies next.

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