So, this is it, my final race as a professional cyclist. When I announced I'd be retiring at the end of this season I didn't know what my last race would be, but then fate stepped in. Paris-Roubaix – a race I've truly loved over the years, was rescheduled from its usual April spot to an end-of-season Sunday in October. It seemed fitting to ride this brutal race to close my career.
It's been quite a journey to get here, especially after fracturing my elbow in a crash at the Benelux Tour in early September. With so many high-calibre Classics riders in our team I wasn't guaranteed a start.
It was touch-and-go whether I'd be on the start line in Compiègne for the Hell of the North and there were even moments in my final preparation race when I had my doubts.
This episode tells the story of my final week as a professional cyclist. Join me along the way as I get ready for the race with my current teammates – Tom Scully, Michael Valgren and Stefan Bisseger, catch up with some of my best friends in the peloton, Bert de Backer, Luke Durbridge, Sam Bewley, Jack Bauer and Mathew Hayman, followed by the aftermath of one of the legendary wet editions of Paris-Roubaix.
I've always said I wanted to do at least one wet Paris-Roubaix before I retired but as the rain fell on the morning of the race and everyone retreated into their own thoughts I began to have second thoughts.
I won't spoil how the race turned out – you'll have to listen for that – but as one of my old teammates said, very few people in sport get to bow out with a fairytale finish. Having said that, the way my Paris-Roubaix ended turned out to be the perfect send-off.
I've loved my professional career but I've learned this year that when it's time, you know it's time.
I hope you enjoy this episode – thank you for all the support whether you were there cheering in the rain or watching at home. If you want to get your hands on a Final Sunday in Hell cap as a memento check out my Etsy store in the links below on Friday.
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The theme music for Life in the Peloton was composed by Pete Shelley, who was lead singer of the punk band Buzzcocks. It was commissioned by the production company behind Channel 4’s coverage of the Tour de France in the 1980s and was used as the theme music for the nightly highlights show. Pete died in December 2018. We were given permission by Pete’s widow and his manager to continue using the music for the theme tune to Life in the Peloton. To hear more about the music, listen to the Andre Greipel episode of Life in the Peloton.