As had been widely predicted all week, Richard Virenque has used a press conference in Paris to anno
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Richard Virenque confirmed at a press conference in Paris this morning that he is going to retire from the sport on October 3, the day of the cyclosportive event that is run in his honour at Hyres in the south of France. Virenque, who will be 35 in November, said he was “afraid of riding one year too many. Leaving at the right time was always one of my dreams. What could the 2005 Tour have brought me in addition to what I’ve already got,” stated the Frenchman, who has ridden the race 12 times and won seven King of the Mountains titles. “On the sporting side I’ve achieved all I am capable of at the Tour.” Virenque, who was accompanied by his wife, Stphanie, and Quick Step team boss Patrick Lefvre, is set to move into a public relations role with the Belgian team. He thanked many people who have helped his career progress through its many ups and downs, from Marc Braillon, the owner of the RMO team with which he made his pro debut in 1991, to Lefvre, under whom Virenque has flourished in recent seasons following his suspension from the sport for doping offences with Festina. “I have used the Festina affair as a springboard. The challenge of returning to the summit of the sport was very tough, but I’m proud that I achieved it. Now a new life is beginning for me. My family will see much more of me. I simply want to live like any other man in the street,” he concluded.