With Sunday’s Amstel Gold hogging the spotlight, Jaan Kirsipuu took the flowers halfway around the world in the fourth stage of the Tour of Korea. Kirsipuu’s win was the first UCI-ranked win for his Champion System team.
The victory was the first of the season for the evergreen 42-year-old Estonian, who found life in retirement too slow and boring for his taste.
“After I retired, I missed racing and decided to return,” Kirsipuu told VeloNews earlier this year. “I am simply enjoying racing now. I have no pressure and no ambition to return to Europe. This is more for the joy of racing than anything else.”
After 14 years as a pro, Kirsipuu retired at the end of the 2006 season with a thick palmares that included wins across Europe and a multi-day run in the yellow jersey in the 1999 Tour de France.
At the end of the 2006 season, he returned to Estonia to attend to some businesses he started, but quickly found life behind the desk too slow for his liking. He straddled the bike again in 2007 and promptly defended his national time trial title. The next year, he won the national road race.
In 2009, he returned to the peloton, but decided to join a smaller team where he could race beyond the pressure-cooker of Europe. VeloNews caught up with Kirsipuu earlier this season at the Mumbai Cyclassic in India, where he was just stretching his legs after a long European winter.
“I am racing now in places I have never seen before,” Kirsipuu said. “I am racing mostly in Asia. It’s interesting to go to new places and race your bike.”
In 2009, he won races in Africa, Ireland, Australia and Japan. Last year, he raced with Champion System across Asia, with stops in Thailand, China, India and Japan, but couldn’t find his way back to the winner’s circle.
Kirsipuu harbors no ambitions to return to a top European team. Right now, he’s just enjoying the ride.
“I don’t want to go back to Europe. There’s too much pressure and, to be honest, I am not in great shape,” he admitted. “I can still be competitive in Asia and have a lot of fun. That’s enough for me right now.”