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by AFP Newswire
January 31, 2020
Photography by Kristof Ramon
Vasil Kiryienka, the veteran Belarusian cyclist who helped Chris Froome to multiple Tour de France wins, retired on Thursday due to a heart issue.
Kiryienka joined Team Sky in 2013 and spent many years as a valuable part of the team’s train. He missed the start of last season owing to a cardiac anomaly, only to return to competitive racing at the Tour de Romandie in 2019 – the team’s first race as Team Ineos.
Announcing his retirement, Kiryienka said “it’s a really sad day for me, but it’s the right decision based on the advice I’ve been given by the medical team. I’ve had a wonderful career and enjoyed every minute racing with this team. It’s been an incredible journey and I am so grateful for all the support I’ve received throughout my whole career.”
The 38-year-old rode in 20 Grand Tours — including alongside four-time Tour de France winner Froome — and claimed a 2013 Vuelta a Espana stage victory as well as three Giro d’Italia stage wins, including a famous solo victory to Sestriere in 2011.
Kiryienka also won the individual time trial at the World Championships in 2015.
Ineos team manager Dave Brailsford added: “It is disappointing for Kiry and for us as a team. He is a true one-off and one of the greatest team riders of his generation. When a rider in a breakaway looked back and saw the open shirted Kiry on the front of the peloton driving the chase they knew their days were numbered.
“He had a unique hallmark style of maintaining a rock solid upper body whilst generating enormous power, hour after hour. The only thing that changed during his metronomic efforts was his grimace would grow as he dug to the very depths of his energy giving his all to the team, day after day.
“We have been lucky to have him ride with us over the last seven years and are proud to have supported him to some incredible victories: the time trial rainbow bands, his breakaway win at the Vuelta and all of his TT victories in our colours.
“While this is a tough decision to take it is obviously the right one and we support him fully in it. We wish him every success and the team will continue to support him in the future.”