Stannard has been with the Team since its launch in 2010 and has played a huge part in its success for over a decade. Former national champion Stannard ends his racing career with seven wins, including two at the Tour of Britain, and as a key member of five Grand Tour winning lineups. But he will be most fondly remembered for his efforts in the Classics, winning back-to-back editions of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2014 and 2015, before riding to third at Paris-Roubaix in 2016.
Stannard said: “It’s disappointing to have to stop like this but it is clearly the right decision for my health and my family.
“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.”
INEOS Grenadiers Doctor Richard Usher said: “Ian was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 12 months ago. It has caused him severe inflammation in the joints, and Ian has had pain in his wrists, knees and ankles. We have tried various treatments but ultimately Ian has taken the best decision for his long term health.”
Stannard became a pro as part of Britain’s golden generation of cyclists, graduating from the British Cycling academy alongside the likes of Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift and Mark Cavendish. With support from the Dave Rayner fund he went on to stagiaire with T-Mobile and cut his teeth in the pro ranks at Belgian team Landbouwkrediet, before joining Team Sky at the start of the 2010 season.
INEOS Grenadiers principal Dave Brailsford said: “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. 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. He has been a core part of our team since day one and we will miss him, but he can look back proudly on a career that’s captured the true spirit of our sport and thrilled so many British cycling fans.”
Stannard continued: “Growing up, the Classics captured my imagination. I always wanted to go over and race on the cobbles. Back in the first year of the Team, I finished third at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in the worst conditions I’ve still ever raced in. Even now, our DS Servais Knaven still asks if I have dried out! I think there were only 26 finishers, and I’ve always thrived in those conditions.
“My favourite win was undoubtedly the second Omloop victory. I’d broken my back the year before, and the recovery process was the hardest I had to endure in my career. Then to beat three Quick-Step riders, in Belgium… It doesn’t get much better really. People still ask me about that win all the time.
“I wanted to keep racing and that competitive fire still burns within me. But I am proud of what I have achieved in the sport and look back at my career with great pride, especially racing for this team. It’s been a dream come true.”