• Ryder Hesjedal (L) at the 2016 Giro d'Italia, a race he won in 2012. (Getty)Source: Getty
Saturday's Giro di Lombardia was notable not just for the victory by Esteban Chaves but as the final career race for veterans Frank Schleck (36) and Ryder Hesjedal (35).
By
Cycling Central

4 Oct 2016 - 10:34 AM  UPDATED 4 Oct 2016 - 10:35 AM

Both riders finished up with Trek-Segafredo at Lombardia after kicking off their respective careers in 1999, Canadian Hesjedal in Mountain Biking and Luxembourg's Schleck as a full-time road warrior.

As with many of their generation, both were touched by doping scandal, but along the way, there were special moments for which they will be remembered.

The Canadian admitted to doping earlier in his career while Schleck, the elder brother of 2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck, served a 12-month ban for a positive test at the 2012 Tour de France.

Hesjedal biggest moment was a last gasp triumph at the 2012 Giro d'Italia while Schleck had his season to remember in 2006 with victory at the Amstel Gold Race and an epic Alpe d'Huez stage win at the Tour de France.

"What can I say? It's done. Now I will unwind, reflect, and look to the future," Hesjedal said. "I am moving back to Canada, back to friends and family and the next part of my life.

"To win the Giro is still the highlight for sure, and I will always cherish that victory and that race. The first long, hard climb today (at Lombardia) was in a stage of that Giro and I didn’t

"The first long, hard climb today (at Lombardia) was in a stage of that Giro and I didn’t realise it, but remembered once I was on that climb. Although, I was suffering more today.

"But that's what it's all about to come here, to do these final classic races in Italy.

"People asked me why I didn't stop after Montreal, and sure that would have been nice to be in Canada and finish like that, but for me, cycling is more global, and Italy is special in cycling and special to me.

"I wanted to come here and suffer on Italian roads one more time, and I certainly did that today. I am complete with that."

Post-race, Schleck reflected on the uncertainty retirement brings but said he would like to contribute to cycling in a different way.

"I have done 15 years, it was a long journey, and now I felt it was the time to call it," he said. " I am happy with the decision I made. I would be lying if I said I was not afraid of what's coming up.

"In the next years, I will be with my family, healthy, and enjoy that and give them something back from all these years. Nice moments are easy to enjoy, but it's the hard moments that tell you who you are.

"I'll let other people be the judge of that, but I hope that people see me as a normal guy from Luxembourg always with his feet on the ground. I am looking forward to bring my kids to school and to do the things that a normal dad does.

"Then I would love to share the passion for cycling. I think this is important, with the name, the career, the experience, I have had, I would love to share this passion.

"I would like to be an ambassador, to show that cycling is much more than a sport, it's more than the pro circus, that it can be used for transportation, and that it is good for your health."