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Two years after his younger brother Andy Schleck announced his retirement, Frank Schleck has revealed that he will hang up his own racing wheels at the end of the current season.
The 36 year old made the surprise announcement at the Luxembourg team’s press conference prior to Saturday’s Olympic road race, saying that it was important to him to go out at the right time.
While he has had a quieter season than he might have hoped, he said that he is still at a good level and that stopping this year is the correct decision to take.
“There is never an easy way to stop doing something you love to do, but I’ve always wanted to retire at a level where I was still competitive and fit,” he stated. “I’m really proud of having spent a large part of my life riding my bike for a living and, above all, I’m extremely thankful for the friends I have made along the way.
“The memories of the victories and the great times I have experienced in some amazing teams will stay with me forever. I will always be a bike rider, but leaving the professional side of things will allow me to spend more time with my family and to see my two kids grow up. I have mellowed over the years, and my family and kids became more and more important to me.”
A professional since 2003, Schleck raced with Bjarne Riis’ CSC/Saxo Bank team until 2010, and then with Leopard Trek between 2011 and 2013.
In that time he won Tour de France stages in 2006 and 2009, as well as the 2006 Amstel Gold Race, the 2009 Tour of Luxembourg, the 2010 Tour de Suisse and the 2011 Critérium International.
He was also a consistent performer in Grand Tours, netting overall finishes of fifth, fourth and third in the 2008, 2009 and 2011 Tours De France, plus fourth in the 2010 Vuelta a España.
Schleck’s career took an unexpected path in 2013 when he tested positive for Xipamide. His national anti-doping agency concluded that the ingestion wasn’t deliberate and suspended him for a year. He returned to the sport with Trek Factory Racing and has competed there since then.
He didn’t reach his former level after his comeback, although he did win a stage in last year’s Vuelta.
“I could mention a lot of moments that have stood out for me, but finishing on the podium of the Tour de France has to be my proudest moment as a bike rider,” he said. “That memory will never be far away. But, to be fair, right now I don’t want to become too nostalgic because the season is still long and I really want to give 100% to the team until the very end of it.”
He has a clear picture of what he wants to achieve before saying goodbye.
“I would love to get a victory in the coming months; that would be a dream, the perfect scenario, really.”
Trek-Segafredo General Manager Luca Guercilena said that the rider had played a big part in the team. “I wish Fränk all the best in his new life; he has been a central part of our organization over the years, and he will be greatly missed.
“He’s an intelligent rider able to finalize in the race the hard work done in training and has been a great leader. Fränk has many incredible results in his career, and I’m sure he will obtain some more in the new life that awaits him.”
It is not yet clear what Schleck’s post-career plans are. His brother Andy, who won the 2010 Tour after Alberto Contador’s disqualification, owns a bike shop in Luxembourg. He retired in 2014 after struggling with injury.