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Team Ineos's Vasil Kiryienka retires with cardiac issue

Joe Robinson
31 Jan 2020

Belarussian calls time on long career that saw him win time trial World Championships

Former time trial World Champion and Team Ineos rider Vasil Kiryienka has announced his retirement from professional cycling due to a cardiac issue.

The Belarussian was first made aware of this 'cardiac anomaly' last March which forced him into missing the start of the 2019 season. He then returned to racing at the Tour de Romandie in April, completing a full season including riding the Vuelta a Espana up to Stage 18 in September.

However, it has now become clear that medical advice has led to the 38-year-old retiring, which he announced on Thursday evening.

'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,' said Kiryienka.

'It’s been an incredible journey and I am so grateful for all the support I’ve received throughout my whole career.'

The last of Kiryienka's 18 victories came in his final season, winning the individual time trial at the European Games. His most noticeable wins came as three stages of the Giro d'Italia in 2008, 2011 and 2015, a stage of the Vuelta in 2013 as well as that World TT title.

However, rather than his victories, it is his racing style that will be best remembered. 

He was noted for having the ability to lead a peloton for large amounts of time at high speeds, keeping the breakaway at arms reach while barely ever showing any facial expressions.

His capabilites were noted by teammates and rivals alike with FDJ riders once referring to him as the 'scooter' as you would sit behind him all day long while Geraint Thomas took to Twitter with his own tribute.

'Kiry. I kind of thought he would never retire. Long after I've stopped I thought he'd still be on the front of a peloton somewhere, ripping it to bits. A true one-off and one of the best teammates you could ever wish for,' wrote Thomas.

Team Ineos manager Dave Brailsford also commented on the retirement of Kiryienka, hailing him as one of the team's most effective riders and a unique talent.

'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,' said Brailsford.

'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. 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.'

Image: Team Ineos