British cycling star Ian Stannard forced to retire at 33 due to rheumatoid arthritis

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Tom Cary
·2 min read
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Ian Stannard on the podium - PA
Ian Stannard on the podium - PA

Ian Stannard, one of the most successful British riders of the last decade, has been forced to retire from professional cycling at the age of 33 due to rheumatoid arthritis.

Stannard is best remembered for being the diesel engine at the heart of countless Great Britain and Team Sky victories, including Mark Cavendish’s 2011 World Road Race Championships win in Copenhagen and Chris Froome’s Tour de France successes in 2013, 2015 and 2016. 

The Chelmsford-born rider - known as ‘Yogi' by his teammates, with whom he was extremely popular - was famed for his long, selfless turns on the front in any weather. But he also had notable individual successes, including stages of the Tour of Britain in 2016 and 2018 and back-to-back victories at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2014 and 2015, the second of them a collectors’ item due to the fact that he escaped with three Etixx-QuickStep riders, including the Belgian great Tom Boonen, and then outwitted them all on their home turf. 

Although Stannard was never able to pull off the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix title many felt he deserved, the 2012 British road race champion did take a notable third place at Roubaix in 2016.

Stannard’s team mates were quick to pay tribute to him. Luke Rowe said on Instagram: “Many a mile spent chopping off with this big man. Always a good crack on and off the bike. Enjoy retirement Yogi Bear.”  Geraint Thomas added: “Sad to see Ian Stannard retire, after over 20 years racing together. Going to miss you mate, but what a career.” 

Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Wout Poels, Ian Stannard, Vasil Kiriyenka and Lukasz Wisniowski take a selfie - GETTY IMAGES
Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Wout Poels, Ian Stannard, Vasil Kiriyenka and Lukasz Wisniowski take a selfie - GETTY IMAGES

In a statement released by Ineos Grenadiers, Stannard said it was “the right decision for my health and my family”. His team principal Sir Dave Brailsford described him as “one of the hardest, grittiest riders there is, whether racing hard on the cobbles of Belgium or pulling on the front at the Tour de France.”

Meanwhile, at the Vuelta a Espana, Jumbo Visma's Primoz Roglic remains 39 seconds clear of Richard Carapaz [Ineos] in the general classification, with Briton Hugh Carthy [EF Pro Cycling] still third at 47 seconds after the longest stage of the race.

Stage 15, a hilly 230.8km run from Mos to Puebla de Sanabria, included five categorised climbs - with over 4,000 metres of climbing in all - but it did not produce any splits at the top of the GC.

Belgian Jasper Philipsen [UAE Team Emirates] held off Pascal Ackermann [Bora-Hansgrohe] in an uphill sprint finish with Britain's 21-year-old Fred Wright, of Bahrain-McLaren, fourth. The race ends in Madrid on Sunday.