Fabio Aru has announced his retirement from the peloton at the close of the 2021 Vuelta a España.
Aru, winner of the 2015 Vuelta and stage winner in all three Grand Tours, has continued to ride for general classification throughout his career but has struggled to find form in recent years.
On Thursday (August 12), the Italian star announced he would be retiring as a rider to spend more time with his family.
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The 31-year-old said: “Reaching this decision has not been easy but it is something that I’ve been thinking about and discussing with my family for some time. I’ve been racing my bike for 16 years and for more than a decade as a professional, but the time has come now to prioritise other things in my life, my family.
“During my career, as any bike rider will tell you, a significant time is spent away from home and for me this is now the right time to give back to them.
“I’ve been fortunate to realise my talent on the biggest stage of all, and together with my team-mates celebrate incredible successes.”
After announcing himself as a Grand Tour challenger during the 2014 season, with back-to-back podiums in his home race the Giro d’Italia, Aru went on to win the Vuelta a España in 2015 while riding in Astana colours.
He continued to chase overall victory in three-week races, but never made it higher than fifth-place (in the 2017 Tour de France).
After switching to UAE Team Emirates in 2018, Aru was diagnosed with a blood flow problem in his left leg and underwent surgery to fix the constriction of his iliac artery in 2019.
Over the following two seasons he has struggled for results, but eventually did find some form part-way through 2021, having joined Qhubeka-NextHash at the start of the season, finishing second overall in the Vuelta a Burgos.
Aru, whose last win came on stage five of the 2017 Tour de France, will now race the Vuelta a España as his final professional race.
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He said: “This team, without doubt is completely unique not just in cycling but across all sport, I am incredibly proud to race here and honoured to end my time as a professional with them.
“After a tough few years, in 2021 I was able to race my bike again and ride at a level that I knew I was capable of, while smiling on the bike. That is a victory in itself, and something that I will forever be grateful for.
“I will continue to ride my bike because it is what I love to do but for now I’m focused on riding the Vuelta a España to the best of my ability with my Team Qhubeka-NextHash team-mates; and it’s fitting that my journey will end here in Spain, a place and a race where I have incredible memories.”