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LONDON (Reuters) - British rider Ian Stannard has been forced to retire from professional cycling because of rheumatoid arthritis, the Ineos Grenadiers team said on Thursday.
Stannard has been with the hugely successful British outfit since it was launched as Team Sky in 2010 and was an integral part of five Grand Tour winning lineups.
"It's disappointing to have to stop like this but it is clearly the right decision for my health and my family," the 33-year-old Stannard said.
"We have explored all of the options this year to deal with my condition, and the team has been there with me every step of the way. I started to hope that I could manage the problem during lockdown, but as soon as I returned to racing I knew that my body wouldn't be able to perform at any level anymore."
Stannard, a graduate of British Cycling's academy alongside the likes of Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish, was best-known for his success in the one-day Classics.
He won back-to-back editions of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2014 and 2015 and placed third at Paris-Roubaix in 2016.
"Ian is a rider who gives so much to the race and his team mates and we all know that he always leaves it all out there on the road," Ineos Grenadiers principal Dave Brailsford said.
"He is one of the hardest, grittiest riders there is, whether racing hard on the cobbles of Belgium or pulling on the front at the Tour de France."
(Editing by Angus MacSwan)