PARIS (AFP) – Australian Stuart O'Grady called time on his cycling career on Monday, a day after completing a 17th Tour de France.
The 39-year-old equalled American George Hincapie's record of 17 appearances in the Grande Boucle, the most prestigious cycling race in the world.
"I've always wanted my career to end with something truly special and this year's Tour de France has given me that," the Orica-GreenEdge rider said in a press release.
"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, and to be able to defend the yellow jersey for Simon (Gerrans) and Daryl (Impey) was special."
In a glittering career, O'Grady won four Olympic track cycling medals from 1992 to 2004, including gold in the Madison in Athens.
He also won Paris-Roubaix in 2007 and claimed victory in four Tour de France stages (including two individual stages and two team time trials), wearing the yellow jersey for three days in 1998 and six days in 2001, while winning the Tour Down Under in his homeland in 1999 and 2001.
He had previously claimed he wanted to retire after next year's Tour, which would have given him the record number of participations on his own, but he admitted Monday there was no need to go on.
"Originally, I wanted to keep going, but I've kept thinking that this is the year," he said.
"I'm turning 40 very soon, and I've realized there are things in my life that I want to prioritize. 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."
O'Grady finished 161st in his final Tour. He will turn 40 in just over two weeks.