News: Tom Southam Retires

Tom Southam, who has ridden at the very top at World Championships and twice been on the podium at the British Road Race Championships has announced his retirement.Tom writes … After 17 years of bike racing, I am very happy to announce that I will be officially putting my racing days behind me at the end of the 2011 season. My last competitive outing will be the Ritchey Oktoberfest 8-hour endurance Mountain bike relay event in Bristol on October the 15th.I would have loved to finish on the road at the Sun Tour, but the opportunity wasn’t there, the way that this event is run though will mean I can compete in a team with my good mates: Simon Richardson, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke and Zak Dempster.

On the podium at the British Road Race Championships with Roger Hammond and Jeremy Hunt.

I have seen cycling change a phenomenal amount in the time that I have been involved, not just within this country, but also within the sport as a whole. Like seeing a photo of someone close to you and suddenly realising that they’ve aged, often in cycling you can be too close to the sport to see how the differences have begun to add up.

When I began racing I dreamt of being World Road Race Champion, I didn’t ever get to be, not many do, however I did at least get to line up and try for it on six occasions. Even the start line of the World Championships can be a long, long way from Penzance, Cornwall.

Tom in GB colours …

I have had a remarkable time, met some extraordinary people, as well as some fairly ordinary people who could do extraordinary things. I have learned a few languages, been around the world plenty of times, I have raced some of the truly great bike races, and seemingly all of the very, very bad ones. I have come out of it with much more than I went in, which is fairly rare for me.

I would consider that I had a career of two halves. The first half went pretty much as planned on the bike and those successes mean a lot to me. But the second half was a lot nicer, and allowed me to do things on the terms that I wanted, without having to deal with the evil, corrupt, shameless mothers who put me off doing what I loved the first time round.

I was fortunate to have been in some great teams, on both sides of my 2006 ‘half time’, and I considered Rapha Condor Sharp a real gem. John’s teams are always excellent, and I got to line this one with people I actually consider friends; something I know is actually a real rarity in this sport, despite all the PR bullshit that says otherwise.

In June I finally knew that knew this would be my last season racing. The fat lady was waiting for me at the Boucles de Mayenne and her rehearsals have been getting louder and louder ever since. The good news is she has quite a voice.

I have been studying for my Masters in Professional Writing since last January and as that is due to be finished in the New Year, the timing compounded the fact that I think now is the right time to stop. I consider myself incredibly lucky (I always have) to have found something else that I am passionate enough about to conceivably be able to keep squeezing life on my terms out of it. I am really looking forward it.

DoonHame this year and Tom is on the front chasing down a break.

I also of course have a few thank-yous to put out there; Gary Dowdell, Mike & Pat Taylor, John Herety, Theo Hartogs, all cornerstones of my eleven years spent racing full time. There are many more people who I will take the time to thank too, but of course I wouldn’t have gotten past the Tamar River without an enormous amount of help and support from my family. In particular my old man, who I began the adventure with, driving the length and breadth of the country to get to races all those years ago, and who, more than anyone helped shape the imagination that allowed me to conjure those dreams up to begin with.

Thanks all. It’s been quite a time.

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