Pauwels was sidelined due to a non-Covid viral infection as the 2020 season recommenced in August, following which a mild case of myocarditis was detected during his recovery period. Having now recovered from both, Pauwels has made the decision to retire from racing as the end of the 2020 season draws near.
Pauwels, whose career highlights include a stage win and the General Classification win at the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire and 13 Grand Tour participations, is excited for the next chapter.
“I have had an amazing career spanning the past 15 years and when I look back, I have nothing but good memories of my time as a professional cyclist. There are few people who can say they love their job and cycling has been much more than that for me, it really is a passion and I’m looking forward to staying involved in the cycling industry following my retirement. After tests revealed a suspicion of myocarditis, I’ve spent the last few months resting which has given me the time to decide what I want to do moving forward. I’m happy to have now been given the green light from a health perspective but I’m almost 37-years-old and I feel this is a good moment to call time on my career. If I was in the early years of my career it would be a different story but I can look back now and say that I have achieved everything I wanted to so, I think this is the right time to retire. I have my family to think about and I can’t wait to spend more time with them, as I have been able to since the interruption in the season back in March,” Pauwels said.
“I’m not sad. I’m not the kind of rider who needs one last lap of the Champs-Elysées or anything like that. I’m more excited to look ahead and see what the future holds. I want to thank everyone who has played a role in my career, from my teammates to the staff, and my family and friends. It really has been an unforgettable ride and I feel lucky to be stepping away on my own terms.”
Although Pauwels has been given the green light to resume a normal training load, a return to racing at this time in the season is not possible, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa explained.
“Serge Pauwels was initially sidelined with a non-Covid viral infection back in August. Further testing revealed a myocarditis, a non-ischemic inflammatory heart muscle disease, which requires rest to heal on its own. So, Serge has spent the last few months resting and just going on coffee rides. Serge underwent follow up tests last week which fortunately indicated that the myocarditis has healed, in which case a return to training and racing would be on the cards,” Dr. Testa said.
“Unfortunately, with very few races left in the season, Serge simply won’t have the time to train and build up to race-ready form before the final Classics or the Vuelta a España. It’s a shame that Serge cannot celebrate his career one last time on the road but the most important thing is that his recovery was successful.”