Australian veteran Stuart O’Grady (Orica-GreenEDGE) has announced his retirement from cycling after the team’s highly successful Tour de France.
Six-time Olympian O’Grady – who rode the Tour for a record-equalling 17th time – was originally set to retire next year but brought forward his plans after a historical Tour for the Australian team.
O’Grady, who turns 40 next month, was part of the team time trial winners in Nice in stage four and also rode in support of yellow jerseys Simon Gerrans and Daryl Impey.
He explained: “I’ve always wanted my career to end with something truly special and this year’s Tour de France has given me that.
“We’ve had a great race, and I’m really proud of what we accomplished.
“Winning a stage and standing on the podium with all my team mates after the team time trial in Nice was a dream come true for me this late in my career and to be able to defend the yellow jersey for Simon and Daryl was special.
“I’m extremely happy to have had a chance to do that one more time before I retired.”
O’Grady turned professional in 1995 with GAN – later Credit Agricole – and three years later became only the second Australian, after Phil Anderson, to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France after his first career stage victory.
The same year, ‘Stuey’ finished second in the points classification – a feat he repeated in 1999, 2001 and 2005 – while he wore themaillot jaune again in 2001 after being part of a team time trial victory.
In 2007, riding for Team CSC (now Saxo-Tinkoff), he became the first Australian classics winner with victory in the Paris-Roubaix while on the track he has two Olympic bronze medals, one silver and gold in the madison in 2004.
On his retirement, O’Grady said: “Having done all this, I’m happy to say that I’ve had my run. Originally, I wanted to keep going, but I’ve kept thinking that this is the year.
“We reached big goals as a team at the Tour, and I’m proud to finish my career after an amazing experience with an incredible team.
“I’m turning 40 very soon, and I’ve realized there are things in my life that I want to prioritize. My family has helped me make this decision.
“It’s been 23 years of top level performing and 19 years of professional racing, so it’s time to move on.”
O’Grady was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his contribution to cycling and was voted into the Australian Institute of Sport’s ‘Best of the Best’ in 2005.
He also won two gold and two bronze World Championship medals and boasts one bronze, two silver and four gold Commonwealth Games medals – including victory on both the road and the track in Manchester in 2002.
His illustrious career also includes victory in the inaugural Tour Down Under, stage wins at the Criterium du Dauphine and a team time trial win at the Vuelta a Espana.
“I have a lot of great memories to look back upon, and I’m happy to pull the pin at a point where I still feel strong, healthy and competitive,” he added.
“I’ve had some bad crashes along the way, but it’s the great moments – like this year’s Tour de France – that I’ll always remember.
“Above all, I would like to thank all the fans, my team and my family for always cheering for me and for all the great support throughout my career.
“It has made me feel appreciated and has given me profound joy for simply doing my job.”
Orica-GreenEDGE’s general manager Shayne Bannan paid tribute to his legendary countryman, hailing the standards he set for Australian cycling.
“It’s impossible to sum up everything that Stuart has given cycling, but a few things stand out,” he said. “His commitment to the sport and to his team has been immense.
“He’s been a huge resource and a fantastic rider for us to work with. To have that kind of dedication at this point in his career shows a lot about his character.
“He’s a unique person and an incredible athlete. His experience and status in the peloton has been one of the key elements to our success.
“Bowing out after a legendary career like his has been a hard decision for him, but we’re proud to say that he was part of starting up this team and set the bar for high ambitions from day one.”