Is everybody here? Great, please take a seat and let’s get started.
First off, thank you all for coming here on such short notice. As I mentioned in the email invite my people sent to you early this morning, I have arrived at an important decision today, and rather than let it leak out, I wanted to tell you personally. So let’s get started.
Hoo boy. Excuse me for getting a little bit emotional. This is harder to say than I thought it might be. Let me try again.
Effective immediately, I am retiring from professional cycling.
There. I said it.
I’m sure many of you have questions, and I’ll give you a chance to ask them in just a moment, but let me try to give my reasons first.
First and foremost, I am leaving the sport of professional cycling to spend more time with my family. And to write my memoirs. And also, because I am finding that maintaining an active presence on Twitter can be excruciatingly demanding.
Second, I am retiring because I have taken a good hard look in the mirror. I have to acknowledge that, with my 45th birthday only four months away, my chances of winning the Tour de France aren’t getting any better. Sure, from day to day I still feel pretty good, but I take a look at some of the other racers around me and realize that where I used to have to suppress the urge to attack, now I have to suppress the urge to yell at them to get off of my lawn.
And the truth is, my team kit just doesn’t fit all that great anymore. I asked my team director if I could get a size larger jersey, and he actually looked at me in disbelief. “This is the largest size they make,” he said. “And we had to order this one special.”
Also, I weigh 172 pounds, making me the heaviest pro cyclist living. I suppose that’s why all the guys in the peloton poke me in the belly. Which is not very respectful, honestly.
This brings me to the next reason I’m retiring: I haven’t won a race in a while. OK, technically I haven’t ever won a race, but my point is that while my UCI ranking has remained consistent, I find it demeaning that it’s been some time since I’ve even been allowed to race. In fact, you might say that my current team duties are more suited to an office intern than a cyclist. So if you’ll allow me a personal note to my team director: I’m a cyclist, Johan, not your freaking butler.
So, for those of you who were wondering, I will not be racing in the Tour of California this year. Nor the Giro d’Italia. Nor the Tour de France. Nor the Vuelta Espana. Nor even the Tour of Utah, unless I decide to poach it.
I am sorry to disappoint you.
Let me finish by saying that I have no regrets. Well, except that I wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped I would be. And that I’ve seemed to get quite a bit slower lately. And that I never had the self-discipline to keep the weight off. And that my contract with my current team has expired and that no other team has picked me up for 2011.
But otherwise, no regrets. Unless you count the time I crashed out the entire team that one time during the Team Time Trial, but I maintain that wasn’t totally my fault anyway; if the guy behind me hadn’t been drafting so close or yelling at me to “speed up” because “18mph on flat ground isn’t fast enough,” I doubt that crash would have even happened. On a personal note: I forgive you, Levi.
With that, I want to thank everyone for their time. I’ll now open the mic for questions.
What? Someone else retired today, too? Well. That’s a weird coincidence.