At the end of his best career season, professional cyclist Antoine Duchesne announced his retirement from sport on Thursday a few days before celebrating his 31st birthday.
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The Quebec and Montreal cycling Grands Prix should be his last career races. Emotional, but serene and at peace with his decision, Duchesne was relieved to have been able to choose the moment himself.
“It will be my last Grands Prix. I have decided to retire. I reached the level I always wanted. I want to be with my family. It’s time to do something else,” summed up the athlete.
The Olympian from Rio could have continued the adventure in 2023, but he preferred to say no to a new contract with his Groupama-FDJ formation. His manager Marc Madiot also mentioned that it was the first time that a rider had refused an extension offer.
The Israel-Premier Tech team was also ready to welcome him. For him, it was important not to wait too long for the season.
A nice story
“You don’t see that a lot of riders turning down contracts when they can continue. For me, that’s what makes the story better. I am emotional, but I have no sadness,” he said with several pauses and a few tears.
With a quavering voice, Duchesne said he wanted to celebrate his personal accomplishments. “I feel a lot of pride,” he added, followed by a loud cry from his son Jules, only a few months old.
“When I think back to the little guy from Chicout who left at 17 with a one-way ticket to France, with a dream of one day becoming a professional cyclist. I never thought I would be here 13 years later to tell you that this dream, I had it. »
Le Caribou made the jump with Europcar in 2014 before joining the FDJ team in 2018. He completed nine seasons on the highest circuit.
Antoine Duchesne participated in the 2016 and 2022 Tour de France. Over the years, his career has been punctuated by several injuries and surgeries, including iliac artery endofibrosis like Alex Harvey and mononucleosis.
A little apprehensive about the future, the athlete sees the next year as a great challenge.
With his spouse Chloé Rochette, the couple is thinking of returning to live in Quebec. Their respective families will welcome them with joy. “I leave with no bitterness. I leave with only love for the bike. »
The idea of turning the page had begun to germinate in his mind in June at the Tour de Suisse, when his great friend Thibaut Pinot won.
At the start of the Grance Boucle last June in Denmark, he entrusted the Journal how difficult he now found it to leave his family to participate in the many trials.
In a breakaway during the last stage on the Champs-Élysées, the choice was made and her sobs had a special meaning as she crossed the finish line in Paris.
“I have always said that family is most important and today I act accordingly. It’s an end, but just one chapter. I choose to stop at the end of my best career season so that the engraving is more beautiful. It’s time to experience other trips. Thank you to all of you. It was a crunch ride! »
►Canadian road champion in 2018 in his hometown of Saguenay, Duchesne also participated in six world championships.
One last time home
When it’s time to turn the page, many Quebec cyclists want to do one last race home and Duchesne is no exception to the rule.
With a broken hand, the latter could participate in his last career race on Sunday in Montreal. A few events in Italy were on his schedule, but his body is bruised and it could take some time to heal his wounds. His announcement of about twenty minutes Thursday was made in a heavy silence.
In front of family and friends, former cyclist Charles Dionne also ended his career in 2010 on the Quebec circuit. Three years later, David Veilleux made the same decision in September 2013, at the age of 25.
“It’s going to happen to all of us at some point. A few days ago I asked him if we were crying this week and he said yes. The chances of us all ending our Grand Prix careers are high. We can’t have better, ”said Guillaume Boivin.
“It’s all to his credit to choose his moment. Our job is very difficult and it requires a lot of sacrifices,” added Hugo Houle.
Antoine Duchesne has indeed put in a lot of effort to regain his best level in 2022. Of this formidable season, he will remember the historic victory of Houle, the Tour de France with his Quebec friends, the 4th place in the general classification of his teammate David Gaudu and battles with his buddy Thibaut Pinot for victories. He says he needs time before formulating projects.
“I left home 15 years ago. I want to move on. I’m not telling you that I’m leaving for a vineyard tomorrow, but maybe one day! We would never have thought that our Corporal Houle would win a stage in the Tour. Young people must believe in it. You have to go for it and work very hard, ”he wanted to leave as a message to the next generation.
The champion does not believe that he will regret his choice even if he will certainly live through difficult times.
“I’ve never printed photos and I did this year at the Tour de France. I have a lot of gratitude for the lived experience. »
A model team member since his debut, Antoine Duchesne has also participated once in the Tour of Italy and twice in the Tour of Spain.
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Duchesne leaves in peace
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