Olympic medalist and four-time world track champion Leigh Howard has announced his retirement from professional cycling.
The 32-year-old Australian has split his time between track and road engagements for the past 13 years, achieving significant success in both fields.
On the track, he won the world titles in the omnium (2009), madison (2010 and 2011, with Cameron Meyer) and the team pursuit (2019) and he was part of the Australian team pursuit team. bronze at the recent Tokyo Olympics. . He is also a seven-time Australian track champion and was part of the gold medal team pursuit team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
On the road, Howard spent seven seasons racing at WorldTour level – two with HTC-Columbia / High Road (2010-11), four with Orica-GreenEdge of which he was a founding member (2012-2015) and IAM Cycling (2016). . He’s had eight road wins, including stages in the Tour of Oman, Tour of Britain and Ster ZLM Tour, as well as a handful of one-day wins including the Clasica de Almeria.
Howard’s career can be broken down into three distinct chapters: his early days in track racing, a full-time focus on the road from 2010, and then a return to the track in 2018. Howard’s return to the track velodrome saw him become a staple in the Australian team pursuit team that ultimately took him to the delayed Tokyo Olympics this year.
Howard had planned to retire after Tokyo, but the final decision ultimately came after that.
“I think the time this came true was about a month after the Olympics,” he said via an AusCycling press release. “I hadn’t touched the bike, and generally over the last few years, after about four weeks without riding, that’s when I can’t wait to get back on the bike. However, this time after four weeks, I still had no interest in getting back on the bike.
“Going for walks with my dog was pretty much my limit. I’m sure I’ll pick up and start doing more eventually, but for now I’m happy to play golf and do a bit of running.
Asked to name his fondest memories, Howard noted his first pro victory, at the Tour of Oman 2010, and crossing the finish line of the Tour de France 2016. But it is the Tokyo Olympics that he will remember the most.
“The moment I’m most proud of was stepping on the podium in Tokyo – nothing can beat that feeling,” said Howard. “It was a big fight getting ready for the track again after so many years on the road and then throwing COVID and a newborn into the mix upstream was extremely difficult but rewarding.
“I am proud of my partner for what she was able to do during this time to help me do what I did.
“The Olympics were by far the most difficult thing I have had to do, not that my other achievements in my career came easily, but the time it took to prepare for just one event. at the Olympics was really tough. Finally reaching the end of this trip and walking away with a medal was pretty darn special and [even though] it wasn’t the colored medal we all wanted, it was still special to have something to take home with.