Citing health issues after 13 years of professional cycling, 34-year old Magnus Backstedt has announced his retirement. The Swede will work with his own development squad and to stay on as a consultant for Garmin-Slipstream's young riders.
"Taking a step down from the highest level of the sport I love and from a team I love is the hardest decision I have ever made, but at the same time I am excited for the new challenges ahead," said Backstedt. "At some point you have to realize that the daily punishment you are forcing your body to go through is taking its toll. I've fought my way back many times since winning Paris Roubaix in 2004, but my new fight will be to focus my energy on my own development team."
Backstedt will continue to act as a consultant for Team Garmin-Slipstream where he will mentor younger athletes, and he will also focus on a Swedish team he has created with business partner Martin McCrossan and Cyclesport.se founder Dennis Nystrand. Cyclesport.se-MagnusMaximusCoffee.com is a Swedish registered continental team, where Backstedt will have opportunity to teach and train young riders as a rider, director and sponsor.
"We will miss Magnus this year," said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO and director sportif of Team Garmin-Slipstream. "He's been a tremendous leader and an inspired mentor for the younger athletes. But we are happy that Magnus will stay on to play a consulting role with us. We wish him the best of luck with his new team."
To many who have watched the big Swede fight one severe injury after another in recent years, the announcement does not come as a surprise. Backstedt has suffered a career-threatening knee injury, melanoma, a separated shoulder and a broken collarbone.
"I've had a fantastic career," Backstedt added. "I turned pro at 21; I have raced with some of the best riders and teams in the world. I've won a stage of the Tour de France and the biggest one-day Classic in the World, among others. I can take a step down from the highest level of the sport with my head held high and with the knowledge that I helped bring about a change in the sport by being involved with Garmin-Slipstream in 2008.
"Most of all I want to thank my family (wife and two daughters especially), friends and all the people who have helped me through the years," he said. "I also want to thank my fans. You guys have been a huge contributing factor in helping me get back from each setback. As they say, as one door closes, another one opens. New beginnings with no regrets. I'm still going to ride my bike, wind down and bring on the future champions."