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Mike Sayers will leave with a big smile (Foto by Mark Adkinson)
Mike Sayers will leave with a big smile (Foto by Mark Adkinson)

BMC’s Mike Sayers announces his retirement set for the end of 2008 season

28. May 2008

Sacramento

Having played an integral role in the team’s success just this past weekend at the Tour de Leelanau, Mike Sayers is announcing his retirement from professional racing effective at the end of the 2008 season. 

“It is really important for me to acknowledge the four guys who have made possible my ending my career on such a high note: Andy Rihs, Gavin Chilcott, Charlie Livermore, and John Lelangue,” Sayers said. 

BMC puts their faith in Sayers

“Gavin and Charlie I have to thank for putting this team together and offering me the chance to ride for them especially at a time when no one else seemed to want me,” Sayers explained.  “I was someone they wanted on their young team and it was a huge thing for me to be able to end my career on such a high note with a top-quality team.  As for Andy Rihs, he is such a saint, and deserves more as a sponsor than anybody I have ever ridden for.  He is so dedicated to the sport, has such a high personal standard and inspires everyone around him to live up to that high standard.”  Sayers went on to say, “And working with John in my last year has been really a  plus for me since he has given a lot of input and offered insights which have been helpful in making many decisions, and he always had faith in me and my ability to contribute to the team.  I have told John and Gavin that I want to give everything to the rest of the racing this year, end the season with an empty tank, contribute until the last day and then I will be able to leave the most satisfied guy in the world.”

Looking back and thanking long-time friends

Considering that Mike Sayers has been a professional for 14 seasons, it is perhaps surprising to realize that he has ridden only for three teams in his career.  “I also really need to send my deep thanks to the Mercury and Health-Net teams that I rode for,” Sayers said.  “Both teams, like BMC, gave me the opportunity to ride for them when I wasn’t in too high of demand, and used me as a mentor in their programs as well.  Both teams have done so much for American cycling, and for me as an individual, that I really need to acknowledge those important elements of my career.”  Fellow racers and former team mates also deserve a shout out from Sayers, now one of the elder statesmen of American cycling.  “My team mates have always been the best guys, and people like Gord Fraser, Henk Vogels and Scott Moninger were all huge influences in my life and career, and there is not doubt I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of these guys and several key figures.”  In a career full of happy memories, high points and impressive victories, Sayers says that the first week in June will be the time of year he will miss the most.  “For me the race in Philly, and the whole week of racing around that will be the time that I will miss the most.  The first Sunday in June has been my biggest race day since I first did it in 1996.  I haven’t won Philly exactly, but I have always ridden well there, earned myself some good results, and been instrumental in many top quality team performances and wins.”  Mike continued, “I have family in the region and have spent so many good times there in past years that it will be the one race I will really miss taking part in.”

Why now and what’s next?

“A lot of small things have contributed to this decision coming at this time,” Sayers said.  “Being on this team in particular has allowed me to ride my final years with a top-flight team.  Add to that the fact that the physicality of competing and being ready to compete week after week, along with juggling increased responsibilities in the home life all combine to make this seem like the right time to take this step.” Mike continued,  “I wouldn’t want to take a spot away from young talent that deserves his chance now.”  Though with still half the season to race, Mike is concentrating on the races at hand, thoughts naturally turn to what will be the next step.  “I am really ready to turn the page and write that next chapter in my life,” He explained.  “I’m not 100% sure what I will be doing my first days in retirement, but I certainly would love still to work in cycling in a director or managerial capacity.”

Still a lot of races ahead

“Racing for Gavin has been the first time that I have raced for a director who has been a substantially more successful racer than I have been myself,” Sayers humbly declared.  “Gavin was the very first to pack his bags and take a flyer on his dream to race in Europe.  He did that very successfully and is actually extremely underrated in his accomplishments.  He then moved on and earned himself a PhD and became very successful in a life outside cycling.  Now he is back and gifting his riders with his keen tactical sense.  I tell the guys ‘if you have looked at a race from one angle, Gavin has looked at it from that angle and 10 others!’  He is very organized, as is John, who is organized and meticulous in his preparation.”  Sayers and his BMC team mates have faith in their team management, a faith which is reciprocated.  “Gavin, Charlie and John give us the confidence because they seem to have blind faith in our abilities, and we want to succeed and improve to fulfil that faith.”