Andy Schleck, winner of the 2010 Tour de France, has announced his retirement at a press conference in Luxembourg.
The 29 year old was flanked by Trek Factory Racing manager Luca Guercilena and long term mentor Kim Andersen and began his press conference on Thursday morning with a statement in English but was close to tears as he explained the reasons behind calling time on his career.
"Now I have to confirm the speculation. In 2015 I will not be a professional cyclist anymore, which hurts me a lot but I had no real decision. It was taken from me by my crash in the Tour in the UK," said Schleck. "I'm obviously disappointed to end my career like this."
Schleck fell awkwardly on stage three of this year's Tour de France and damaged both collateral and cruciate ligaments, which required surgery in Switzerland and six weeks on crutches.
He attempted to return to training towards the end of summer but struggled to regain fitness due to repeated inflammation around the knee.
"I could ride for three or four hours but whenever I went hard on a climb, my knee swelled up," he explained. "I went to the doctors and they said there wasn't much more they could do.
"I went back to Mallorca and hoped it would get better, but it didn't. The ligaments were fine, they healed, but I have almost no cartilage left under my kneecap.
"I would have liked to keep on fighting but my knee just doesn't allow it. Since my crash in the UK there has hardly been any progress.
"While the ligaments have healed, the damaged cartilage is another story. I have been working hard on rehabbing the knee but came to the hard realisation that at the risk of irreversibly injuring it, this is the best course of action."
Schleck's career saw him win the young rider classification at the 2007 Giro d'Italia as well as the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Tour de France before being awarded the 2010 Tour title after Alberto Contador was stripped after testing positive for clenbuterol.
The Luxembourg-born rider triumphed at the 2009 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and won the Mountains classification in the 2011 Tour de Suisse.