Dan Fleeman retires from competitive cycling
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Dan Fleeman retires from competitive cycling

by Ed Hood at 4:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Briton leaves Raleigh to pursue different career path

Dan Fleeman

Ten seasons after he first crossed the English Channel in search of a professional contract, Dan Fleeman (Raleigh) has decided to call a halt to his career.

In a market where riders of the quality of Roger Hammond and Dan Lloyd are still without a ride for 2012, the 29 year-old former Cervélo Test Team pro has decided to concentrate all of his energies into his Cycleshack bike shop and his fledgling but rapidly-growing Forme Coaching business.

Fleeman explained that the decision came down to a financial consideration. “You’re either a pro or you’re not a pro…whilst Raleigh looked after me financially, folks don't understand that the salaries most UK pros receive won't pay a mortgage and enable you to live, unless you're still staying with your parents or your wife is supporting you,” he told VeloNation.

“That's not to say the riders aren't worth the money…there just isn't the media coverage in the UK to merit a sponsor paying European wages.”

Fleeman explained that he spoke to the new Champion System Pro Continental team and that if a good agreement had been reached, his decision might be different. “Perhaps if that had come to fruition then I might have continued, but to be honest, my heart isn't in racing at anything other than the highest level,” he said.

“The clincher is that the coaching business has taken off in a way which none of us foresaw; in the weeks prior to my making the decision to quit I was having to deal with a dozen emails regarding the business before I could get out on my bike.

“It's never been my style to do things in a half baked fashion and I've made the decision that my future lies with the coaching business.”

Season with Cervélo Test Team the high point, but affected by injury:

Fleeman came to the road from mountain biking and, once he understood the dynamic of the sport, he immediately headed for Belgium in 2001.

The following year he raced in France but in 2003 whilst training in the UK he was run down by a car, leaving him with shattered knee caps – one of which had to be removed.

Despite major surgery on both knees and a prolonged spell in a wheel chair, Fleeman won the British U23 road race title almost exactly one year to the day later.

During seasons 2005/6 he achieved a string of good results, among them wins in the Prix De La St Amour and stage three in the Tour du Beaujolais not to mention taking the combativity jersey in the Tour de Nivernais Morvan.

These results gained him a ride with Anglo-Belgian squad DFL for 2007 and he served his apprenticeship in the unforgiving cobbled Flemish school.

For 2008 he moved to Sean Kelly’s An Post team where he took his biggest success, winning the tough Tour of the Pyrenees. Unfortunately this result was over shadowed in the UK media by the GB track squad’s spectacular medal tally in the Beijing Olympics – the two events running concurrently.

He then placed seventh overall in the Tour of Britain and his strong riding caught the eye of those recruiting for the new Cervelo Test Team. It meant that Fleeman became part of the team in 2009.

That season started promisingly with a top 20 in the GP Lugano and good performances in races like the GP Indurain and Fleche Wallonne. However a bad crash in the Bayern Rundfahrt in May compromised his season – he again found himself on the operating table, with a complicated wrist fracture - and it was the end of the season before he was back on the start sheets.

Despite solid rides in Tours of Piedmont and Lombardy he was not retained for the following season.

A winter of energy sapping and frustrating contract negotiations saw him sign a two year contract with a revived Raleigh UK team.

Despite strong rides in international stage races in Norway, Portugal and Canada; wins in the 2009 and 10 British hill climb championships; plus strong rides in the British Elite road race championships in 2010 and 11, it was difficult for a rider who was used to the atmosphere of Pro Tour races to reach peak motivation on a diet of criteriums and domestic road races run largely in the wilds of rural Britain.

Fleeman was in negotiation with a number of teams over the autumn but the early success of his Forme Coaching business – which he has set up in conjunction with former Rás winner Stephen Gallagher – means that he has decided to change direction and hang up his wheels.

He does joke he might return to racing when he’s ‘fat and 40’ and there is a chance we may yet see him in cyclo-cross action next winter. However his dream of riding a Grand Tour will unfortunately remain unfulfilled.

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