May 11, 2020 / 1:33 PM / 14 days ago

Cycling: Olympic champion Van der Breggen to retire after Tokyo Games

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - UCI Road Cycling World Championships - Innsbruck-Tirol, Austria - September 29, 2018 Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands celebrates as wins the Women's Elite Road Race REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

(Reuters) - Dutch Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen has said she will retire from cycling after defending her road race title at the rescheduled Tokyo Games in 2021.

The 30-year-old, who won road race gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016, will become a coach with the Boels-Dolmans team after ending her professional career.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been pushed back a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Olympic Games in Tokyo are, of course, a great challenge and an important reason for continuing another year," Van der Breggen said in a statement here

“I also want to end my career with a great, full season. Especially after this year, which was largely lost due to the corona pandemic, I am enormously motivated to continue for one more year.

“I’ve been thinking about a role as team leader/coach for some time. I was quickly excited about the team’s proposal. In 2021, I want to get the best out of myself on my bike for one more season. After that, I will focus on this new job.”

Van der Breggen, who secured the rainbow jersey at the world championships in Innsbruck two years after her victory in Rio, has signed a three-year contract to work as a sports director/coach with Boels-Dolmans.

Her compatriot Chantal Blaak, who won the women’s road race at the 2017 world championships, will continue to race professionally until 2022 before taking up a coaching role with Boels-Dolmans.

“In women’s cycling, it is not common for cyclists to make this step into coaching after their active career,” Blaak said. “It is a compliment for me to be seen as one of the mainstays of this team.”

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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