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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.
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.