Bessette and Freedman retire from racing
North Americans hang up their wheels
May 2006 was the month in which 2 North American cyclists decided to retire from racing. By chance, towards the end of the month, both Nicole Freedman and Lynne Bessette decided they'd had enough and announced that they were no longer going to be members of the pro peleton.
Nicole Freedman, who is based in Boston Massachusetts, was most recently a rider for the American Ford-Basis team. She announced her retirement on 23rd May with an official press release: " As one of the peloton's most lustrous
characters throughout 12 years as a pro, Freedman matched a sharp, self-deprecating wit with an intense competitive drive, harnessed them to a savvy business instinct and succeeded brilliantly as a racer, coach,
manager, and general industry influencer. She arrived at her decision to retire because of what she describes as her dream job coming to fruition.
"I was working part-time for the City of Boston to look at plans to bring acitywide cycling festival," said Freedman. "My boss asked me if I would go full time. I said 'no.' He asked a month later and it occurred to me, 'what am I waiting for? This is exactly what I want to do going forward, I better jump on this opportunity while I have it!'"
Freedman collected her pro license in 1994, the same year she rode as a member on the first ever all-women's team to compete in the Race Across America (RAAM). Since then her career has become one huge constellation of standout highlights including earning a berth on the Sydney Olympic team in 2000, becoming a two-time US National Champion, winning a stage in the Tour of New Zealand and winning more than 40 professional NRC races. Behind the scenes, Freedman cemented her reputation as a leader - both on the bike and off - when she helped evolve and manage teams including Odwalla, Treo, Schwab and most recently the buzz-worthy Ford-Basis.
In addition to racing and managing teams, Freedman founded her own coaching service, which grew at near light speed pace by word-of-mouth from her adoring clients. Without racing and training tugging at her schedule, Freedman will be able to dedicate more time to her current passion, Hub on Wheels (HOW). HOW is a citywide ride created in conjunction with Mayor Menino's office to showcase Boston's many diverse neighbourhoods as well as its parks, greenways, neighbourhoods, and waterfront and to promote urban biking in general. Visit:
www.hubonwheels.org for more information.
Freedman made her debut this year as a calendar girl for the inaugural Jewish + Female = Athlete wall calendar presented by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. As "May," Freedman got to brag to friends, family and fans about
her pin-up stint however some scoffed at the project in disbelief since there couldn't possibly be enough Jewish women athletes to fill a calendar. As one of the most colourful characters from J + F = A, she will prove naysayers wrong once more since she's been invited back to appear as "April" with a fresh, new crop of athletes in the calendar's second edition."
Lyne Bessette, the Canadian who has been dogged by injury so far this season, decided during the Tour de l'Aude that she no longer wished to race. She abandoned the race after Stage 7a and travelled back to Canada before making her announcement. (Bessette won the Tour de l'Aude in 1999, as a member of the American outfit, Team Saturn. She won again in 2001 when riding for Canada.)
2006 was a disappointing year in injury terms for Bessette. As a member of the newly formed European T-Mobile women's team, Bessette was racing in the Tour of Geelong in February when she crashed heavily and suffered from a severe concussion. She remained in Australia, rather than going to the New Zealand round of the World Cup, to recover and to prepare for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March. However during an official practice session on the moutainbike course with the Canadian national team, she fell and further injured her shoulder. The injury prevented her from competing in the Games and delayed her arrival in Europe to join the rest of the T-Mobile team until May 2006.
It was at the Tour de l'Aude where Bessette finally decided that she did not wish to continue. It has been widely reported that this was not a sudden decision. Once she realised that she had a fear of crashing, she knew that it would not be possible to be at the 'sharp end' of a race, in the sprint. Once that kind of doubt or worry exists, she has wisely recognised, a racer cannot perform at their best.
Bessette prior to the start of Stage 7A of L'Aude - her final pro race.
One of the last pictures of Lyne Bessette racing - just a few kilometres before the end of the stage
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