Matteo Pelucchi has announced that 2021 will be his final one as a professional, as he ends his career racing in Italy to bring the curtain down on a career spanning more than a decade.

Pelluchi (32) lines up alongside close friend and compatriot Giacomo Nizzolo for the Coppa Bernocchi on Monday, after which his final race will be Gran Piemonte on Thursday, 7 October.

The Italian joined Team Qhubeka NextHash at the start of 2021 having previously ridden for the likes of Bardiani, Androni and Bora-HansGrohe, and having made his debut in 2011 at Pro-Continental level with Geox-TMX Transformers.

While a double-stage winner at the Tour de Pologne, Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour de Langkawi, it was his victory at the 2011 Clasica de Almeria and a second-place finish on stage 6 of the 2015 Giro d’Italia riding for IAM Cycling, that will rank among his best memories.

Matteo Pelucchi

I’ve decided to end my career after 11 years as a pro. It’s been a good career and I think the right time to stop, and to start thinking about something else.

I feel like this is the right time, I’m in a great team and I leave cycling with an amazing experience that I had with Team Qhubeka NextHash. That means that I end it feeling happy; I am very close with Giacomo and the team’s mentality and celebration of the Ubuntu spirit is something that I will take into the future with me, always.

I’m happy because as a rider I realised my dream, which was to win some good races and in the process I was able to experience every single emotion across the sport. This is something that I’ve really come to appreciate in the last few years, that it’s not only about results but also every feeling that we have on the bike, be it a win or the pain from a crash, or the help for your teammates and the spirit in the group, or now that I will stop. Cycling has given me a range of emotions that I’m not sure you could have in “normal” life and for that I am extremely grateful and proud. This is something that I will never forget.

I would like to thank every single person I have worked with over the years, and I hope that I have been able to repay them with that loyalty too. Finally, to my family and friends, I want to express my gratitude for all of your support as I’ve lived my dream.

— Damian to teamqhubeka.com

The comeback story after a “scary” start to a pro career

Late last year, Lucas Dauge wrote a blog post for the Team Novo Nordisk website. It was titled, “Believe in your dreams and they will come true.”

The post came shortly after his graduation to the Team Novo Nordisk professional team from the Devo team was announced. 

Dauge could not have known that he would have to hold onto his dream of becoming a professional cyclist more than ever when he crashed before his season got going. 

In December last year, excited to start his career, he embarked on a training camp with teammates in Girona. Dauge lost control on a corner and came down hard, fracturing his fibula and tibia. 

He underwent surgery then traveled home to France to start rehab. 

Six weeks later he faced a second setback.  

The 24-year-old slipped while walking on crutches in the kitchen. The screws from the surgery in his legs moved. The accident caused a much larger second surgery. 

“It wasn’t a good start to my career with the pro team but the team staff were great and told me to take all the time I needed to recover,” Dauge said. “I had no pressure. The most important thing was to be healthy and not have any problem with the leg long term .”

Dealing with disruptions in life, especially like this, can’t be easy for anyone but Dauge says a positive attitude goes a long way. “I tried to keep my mind busy. I told myself I would come back.  The road to coming back was long but I stayed passionate. I worked hard with my physio a few times a week and I was dedicated. After I got some mobility back, I tendered to my garden as I grow my own vegetables.”

“I am a very positive person. It’s my personality. Even when I got diagnosed with diabetes, it wasn’t easy but I handled it pretty well. Back then, I tried to look at the positives and discovering there was a professional cycling team of athletes with type 1 was enough of a reason for me to stay positive and look forward!”

Dauge wasn’t sure if he would compete in a bike race this year but his dedication to rehab paid off. In early September, he joined the team on home roads in Classic Grand Besancon Doubs and Tour du Jura. 

It had been almost a year since his last race. 

“It was pretty hard because the level was so high. I was scared to move in the peloton as it was one year since my last race. My goal was to finish the race and get some race kilometers. The first race was ok then the second one was pretty hard because they started full gas from the start. The roads were narrow with a lot of corners so I stayed at the back being cautious but I’m happy because I didn’t even know if I would race this year.” 

Though there is still a lot of work to be done by the young Frenchman as he continues to visit his physio, there is no doubt his attitude and work ethic will pay even more dividends in the future. 

— Xylon Vaneyck to www.teamnovonordisk.com