It's official. 2024 is Rigo's final season.
Colombian superstar announces his retirement
The front seat of our team bus is going to seem very empty next year.
Today, Rigoberto Urán officially announced he will retire by the end of the 2024 season. For the past nine years, Rigo has been our leader and inspiration. The captain’s chair at the head of our team bus was his.
Rigo’s immense achievements on the bike, which include an Olympic medal, GC podiums at the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, plus stage wins in all three grand tours, remain unforgettable souvenirs of his time as a racer. During his 19-year professional career, Rigo opened roads for South American cyclists and made millions of fans, as he rode away from the hardships of his youth in Urrao, Colombia to the heights of international superstardom.
Now, it’s time for Rigo’s next act.
“As a cyclist, I believe the time has come to say: we have reached the end,” Rigo said in an interview with the team before the Tour Colombia. “It has taken me a long time to come to this decision. It is something I have thought long and hard about. The truth is that it is scary. Cycling has given me everything in life. For almost 23 years, my aim was to get up, eat breakfast, and ride my bike. I was a part of a team that took me to the major races around the world. Now that is going to end.”
Rigo won’t rest on his laurels. In his home country, he is now a national hero, with an 80-episode TV series about his life, his own clothing brand, gran fondos, restaurants, and millions of Instagram followers. He will soon focus his boundless energy on his businesses and his family. First, he will race this season out.
“I'm going to try to enjoy it, give my best in the races, and race every one like it is my last,” Rigo said. “This season will be a thank you, a thank you very much. I only have gratitude for the team, for all the people, all the many coaches and many teammates who were always there to help me over the past 20-plus years.”
Our gratitude to Rigo is vast. For those who know him, Rigo’s real heroism has always glowed away from the cameras. In the bus, he is an aura of calm before the most stressful races, pinning on his numbers and polishing his shoes with the same fastidious care he learned as a junior, always ready to break the tension with a joke or reggaeton track. When it’s time, he’ll share a brisk word about tactics, and then the whole team will focus on the road ahead.
“I’m going to miss Rigo,” says EF Pro Cycling founder and CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “The team is going to miss Rigo. He is the foundation of what we have built. Of course, he will thrive in retirement, and I’m sure he will find ways to express his passion and personality away from racing. But we will miss his charisma and leadership. Rigo is a great cyclist, no doubt. But what made him special in our team is that he’s also a great person.”
When Rigo speaks, riders listen, because he has always backed up his words with deeds. When our team almost folded the year he’d finished second at the Tour de France, he honored his contract, despite being released to seek other teams, and helped usher in a new era with EF Education First.
“What do we want for our children? That they do sports and that they study,” Rigo said. “During these wonderful years with EF Education First we have created a team that people love, that cheers up the broadcasts. Maybe we don’t win the most races, but we are a very competitive team, a very nice team that gives a lot of happiness to the peloton.”
Time after time, Rigo has taken young athletes under his wing, hosting dozens of fast young Colombians when they were first setting out in Europe, and showing them the kindness that was shown to him.
When Rigo was 14 years old, his father was killed by paramilitaries. At once, he had to support his family. Instead of seeking revenge, he broke the cycle of violence, selling lottery tickets to make ends meet and pouring all of his energy into the sport he had shared with his dad. The local cycling club saw his determination and helped him on his way. Later, when he first went to Europe to race, an Italian family adopted him, caring for him when he was down and cheering for his early successes. Throughout his career, he has forged great relationships with his generation of racers and the next and always shown respect for his colleagues, from soigneurs to mechanics to race-winning superstars.
Rigoberto Urán is an exemplar to everyone.
“To meet a five-year-old boy who says, ‘Rigo, you inspire me to be a better person,’ for me that has all the weight,” Urán said. “Who was going to know that that boy, in Urrao, with that story, that hard-working boy thrown into adulthood could be an inspiration to so many people. Really, if one is able to help someone to change a habit, to improve their life, I think he has done a great job.”
Great job, Rigo. Your seat in the bus will seem empty next year, but you will inspire us forever.