There's a moment that every rider knows he'll have to face during his career. The most difficult. For those who have always lived on gasoline and adrenaline, acknowledging that those days are definitely over is painful. It doesn't matter if your career was that of a champion or if there was more disappointment than satisfaction. Quitting hurts. Giacomo Agostini himself confessed to having "cried for three days when I retired".
Tears and kudos
There are also those who failed to hold back their tears when pronouncing those fateful words. Like Kevin Schwantz, who announced his farewell in 1995 at Mugello. "I'm doing it for health reasons. My heart can no longer cope with this kind of stress. I can no longer continue with this life," said the Texan, before receiving an applause from the audience.
Unfortunately, retiring because of a physical condition is a common fate for many riders. It happened to Mick Doohan in 1999: "I underwent three operations and did everything I could to get back in shape. I hoped to return to racing, but it's not possible,” this was the epitaph of the fantastic career of the Australian who repeatedly had to deal with his condition.
Saying enough is enough is always difficult, but it's sometimes your head that asks for it and not your body. Like what happened in recent years with Capirossi, Biaggi, and Pedrosa.
Loris's farewell moment arrived in Misano in 2011: "It was the most difficult decision I ever made, but I think this is the best time to quit." The warrior of Borgo Rivola still had offers to continue, but he decided to make a clean break, while continuing to remain in the paddock, where he is now safety advisor.
A champion's farewell
Instead, Max Biaggi succeeded in doing what only a few can boast of: saying enough is enough with a laurel on his head. In 2012, at Magny Cours, he won his second World SBK title with Aprilia. A month later, at Vallelunga, he said it would be the last.
"I'm leaving like a champion and not like others have done for physical reasons or because they couldn't find a competitive bike," was the Corsair's satisfaction. He would have had no trouble renewing his contract with Aprilia, but he felt that, at 41, it was better to turn over a new leaf "I'm not like some politicians who are attached to their chairs," he said ironically.
He didn't keep his promise, returning to the SBK for two races at Misano and Sepang in 2015. A short cameo appearance that earned him another podium to add to his collection.
Goodbye to racing, not to motorcycles
Casey Stoner also said goodbye with the number one on the fairing of is bike, but the timing was rather unusual. At Le Mans, the fourth race of the season, the Australian declared without any warning that he would be retiring at the end of the year. The Werewolf Kangaroo had won the title with Honda in the previous season, coming from two consecutive victories at Jerez and Estoril, and was at the top of the rankings.
Casey's farewell was not without controversy: "This is no longer the MotoGP I had fallen in love with. I no longer have fun. Better to quit now because so many things have disappointed me." It wasn't enough that Honda had upped its offer. Stoner kept his word.
He then raced with the V8 Supercars in Australia and, in 2015, he took part in the Suzuka 8 Hours with Honda, but he broke his shoulder blade and shin because of a malfunction to his CBR accelerator. He was also a HRC test driver, before returning to Ducati in the same role, until the end of last year.
The transition from rider to tester is also the path followed by Dani Pedrosa, who announced his retirement in last year's Sachsenring GP. The Petronas team already had a place ready for him, but it was time to say good-bye for the Spanish rider.
"I've been thinking about it for a long time. I don't live the races anymore with the same intensity as before. In the end, what matters are the sensations you feel, and I felt I had to quit. I would like to be remembered as a rider who gave it his all," where his words that day.
He didn't only quit racing, but he also left Honda, accepting KTM's offer to become its test rider.
Today, Marco Melandri communicated the same decision and, like many others before him, it wasn't easy.
Instead, Eddie Lawson explained, with words as precise as his trajectories on the track - when in the Cagiva pit-box at Kyalami in 1992, while closing the bag with his last suit inside - what a rider felt at that moment: "I've won enough. I've lost enough. I've hurt myself enough. I've had enough."
The lights dim, and the curtain falls.