Langley cyclist Svein Tuft rode in his final race Sept. 15th at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec et Montréal.
For the 13-time Canadian champion, the Montreal race was a surprisingly emotional experience, “a powerful thing,” Tuft told the Langley Advance Times.
“It was really starting to hit me,” Tuft recalled. “I was truly done.”
He described his state of mind at the end of the race as “truly content, along with a million other emotions.”
Tuft had actually intended to retire a year earlier, after riding with an Australian team, but a startup American team, Rally UHC, convinced him to delay his departure and lend his depth of experience and laid-back attitude as mentor and “road captain” to the young Americans.
“I thought it would be a good way to retire,” he said.
He has called racing his “addiction,” but that became less the case with age and fatherhood, Tuft discovered.
“When you’re young, you just go full-out,” Tuft related.
“I had that focus. You think it’ll never change, but it will.”
As a new dad with a two-year-old son, the potential hazards of high-speed racing were more worrisome than they used to be.
“It becomes less interesting,” Tuft observed.
Physical wear and tear is another reason.
“You start getting clues from your mind and your body,” he said.
At 42, Tuft was one of the oldest competitive cyclists in the world, with a lengthy string of credits that, in addition to his Canadian titles, included winner of the 2006–07 UCI America Tour, eight years riding on the WorldTour, wearing the pink jersey reserved for race leaders at the Giro d’Italia race based in Italy, and a silver medal at the 2008 world championships.
“I’ve just been going full-gas for 20 years,” said Tuft, who began racing at the relatively old age of 23.
In a video from Cycling Canada, riders across the country wished him well in his retirement.
Tuft was known as Canada’s “time trial king,” as an 11-time Canadian national time trial champion, where cyclists race alone against the clock, and two-time road champion.
A few weeks into his retirement, Tuft was adjusting the fact that, for the first time, he won’t be planning his training schedule based on his upcoming races, and he won’t be training nearly as hard.
“It’s been a strange time” he commented.
“I’ve got to start figuring out normal life”
He plans to take some time to figure out what he wants to do, but expects it will include writing a book about his career, and helping to coach the next generation of competitive cyclists in Canada.
READ MORE: Tuft set for Tour de France debut
His wife is from Quebec, and he has family in Langley and Kamloops, so he anticipates they will split their time between the two provinces.
The couple is planning to have one more child.
Asked his opinion if either of his children elected to pursue the sport of cycling, he said that will be their decision
“Cycling is a crazy sport,” Tuft noted.
He credits his longevity to maintaining an upbeat attitude about the ups and down of the sport.
“It was all about changing my perspective and focusing on the positive.”
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