‘I can’t do it any longer’: Kévin Reza announces retirement
Kévin Reza has announced his retirement from professional cycling, closing the book on an 11-year career that ends with French ProTeam B&B Hotels p/b KTM.
“It’s not all rosy, cycling. In a very short time, it can give you everything and take it away,” Reza said in the team’s official announcement. “My decision has matured over a few weeks and, while last year I returned to the level I aspired to, my feelings have changed since the start of this season. The tension that reigns in the peloton, the risks that some riders take and the efforts made with each restart, to raise out of the saddle again and again… I feel that I can’t do it any longer.”
Reza, or ‘La Rez’, turned pro with Europcar in 2011, then spent three years with WorldTour outfit FDJ before joining the ‘Men in Glaz’ at the team’s inception in 2018. Throughout his career, Reza has come agonisingly close to a big win on many occasions, he’s raced three Tours de France, and picked up top 10 stage finishes in each of the three Grand Tours. Though he’s never taken a victory of his own, he has been a key lieutenant for French sprint sensation Bryan Coquard.
“I always told myself that the day I struggled to complete my mission, I would ask myself the right questions,” Reza reflected after the recent Tour of Belgium. “In Belgium, when I was in pre-selection for the Tour, I was able to prove that my physical condition was good but my head is no longer in it. My body is no longer able to withstand the pressure. On the television, preparing for a sprint looks smooth and simple, but it’s actually quite different.”
After suffering a horrible crash at the Vuelta a España in 2016, Reza had a steep climb back to the top, but the question of retirement did not cross his mind until more recently.
“It was a hell of a challenge getting back on the bike after this accident. I could not see myself stopping my career after that event. I wanted to prove to myself that I could come back to the top level. This time, I feel the hour has arrived and I have no problem saying it. For many riders, retirement is a taboo subject but it’s far from traumatic for me.”
The announcement also confirmed that Reza will not be at the start of the Tour de France in the team’s home region of Brittany, choosing instead to rest up and prepare for his last professional races.
“I know I’ve had a privileged life all these years,” Reza reflected. “Traveling to the four corners of the earth and experiencing such emotions, that doesn’t happen in normal life! The announcement of my first pro contract, my first participation in the Tour with the Patrouille de France which finished on the Champs Elysées at nightfall, my selection for the Ponferrada World Championships, the victories of ‘Le Coq’ [Coquard]… It was Bryan who revealed my role to me in our first years side by side. We discovered the Tour together and then took different paths and I realized that I wasn’t thriving in that role with any other rider. Our relationship goes beyond sports.”
Reza finished by paying tribute to the bravery and patience of his mother, the first person he told about his decision to retire. She replied, “My heart will be able to rest now.”