After taking a break from cycling in May, former Team Katusha Alpecin rider Marcel Kittel has announced his retirement.

Kittel confirms retirement from professional cycling

Marcel Kittel has retired from professional cycling at the age of 31.

German sprinter Kittel left Team Katusha Alpecin in May to take a break from cycling, citing exhaustion as his reason.

The 19-time Grand Tour stage winner has now confirmed he will not be returning to the sport, insisting he no longer wishes to go through the pain required to compete at the top level.

In a post on his official website, Kittel, who is expecting to become a father in November, said: "This decision process has not been a quick one, but has taken place over a longer time.

"During my nearly 20-year sports career there have been not only incredible successes but also difficult times.

"I have always been one to openly question and reflect when such things happen, so that I can learn and become better. That, together with the people around me, has made me the successful athlete that I now am, but this method has also taught to leave my old ways and learn new ones.

"I know there is much more than just sport, for example my own future family.

"Recently the thought on this future without cycling has grown, as has the awareness of the sacrifices that such a beautiful but also very difficult sport like cycling brings with it.

"The biggest question of the last few months was: Can I and do I want to continue to make the sacrifices needed to be a world-class athlete? And my answer is no, I do not want that anymore, because I have always found the limitations on a top athlete as an increasing loss of quality of life.

"That is why I am very happy and proud that at this point in my life I can make the decision to follow my heart in a new direction."

Kittel enjoyed the last of his 14 Tour de France stage victories in 2017 and also has four stage victories at the Giro d'Italia and one in the Vuelta a Espana.

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