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Campbell Flakemore has dissolved his contract with BMC Racing and quit cycling less than a year after Cadel Evans anointed the 23-year-old as one of Australia’s next potential Grand Tour winners.
Flakemore said he had considered quitting the sport even before he signed a neo-professional contract with BMC last year on the back of an under-23 world title.
“I am leaving the team but also finished with cycling just in general for now,” Flakemore told CyclingTips in a phone interview from Hobart, Tasmania today.
“I think it was a good decision and I’m happy that I’ve finally made it because it wasn’t something that just happened overnight; it’s something I’ve been thinking about probably properly for 18 months now.”
The 2014 UCI under-23 time trial world champion cited a lonely existence in Europe and disillusionment of WorldTour racing as reasons behind his choice, which he communicated to BMC sporting manager, Allan Peiper in August.
Flakemore said his two-year contract was simply terminated.
“They [BMC] were a bit disappointed because they gave me this massive opportunity and I’ve sort of just thrown it back at them,” he said. “But I think if you’re not happy doing something then you’ve sort of wasted your time and I think they understood that.”
Flakemore crashed out of his WorldTour debut at the January Tour Down Under in which he broke his collarbone riding back to the team hotel at the end of stage two.
At that race then team-mate, and 2011 Tour de France champion, Evans pointed to the potential of the rookie pro, and praised his fourth-place finish on senior debut at the preceding Australian national road race.
Flakemore today expressed doubt he could, or wanted, to live-up to the hyperbole of future Grand Tour contender.
“The amount of work and sacrifice required to get to that level and be a Grand Tour winner, people that aren’t in cycling have no idea what it takes. I don’t really see myself being able to do that and make all those sacrifices to be a top rider,” he said.
“[The WorldTour] it’s not the glitz and glamour of what it looks like on the TV, which is what everyone sees. It wasn’t for me and I’m happy I’m out for now. “
Flakemore notched 31 race days this year, which included the Tour of Romandie and Tour of California, before calling time on his season and, seemingly, career with the August Vattenfall Cyclassics-Hamburg, around when he spoke to the team.
Flakemore did have experience living and racing abroad as an under-23 but found this year, in Nice, France, different.
“I did have guys around me like Nathan Earle and Caleb [Ewan], who was living quite close, but there was a lot of times when you were by yourself and, yeah, it just wasn’t for me. I asked myself, do I envisage doing this for the next 10 years? The answer was no.
“It was good to get out now before maybe it was a bit too late to try something else.”
Flakemore said he consulted his parents and former domestic team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston about leaving.
“I didn’t want to have too many people’s opinions because at the end of the day it was me who had to make a decision,” he said.
“For the people who really know me, it wasn’t a massive surprise.
“But for a lot of people it is a big surprise because they see it as you’re living in Europe and living this dream, which it is at times, but sometimes it’s the complete opposite.”
Flakemore returned to Tasmania from France two weeks ago where he will contemplate his future.
He said the composition of BMC in 2016, which will include more climbers, notably compatriot and Grand Tour contender Richie Porte, did not influence his decision.