Ongoing health problems have prompted Steven Cozza to end his professional cycling career at just 26 years old.
The NetApp rider said that long-term problems with colitis have long prevented him from performing above half of his potential and said that getting back to full health is his first priority.
“For too long now I have been struggling with colitis,” Cozza said on the team’s web site. “I am getting better at managing it but at this point it is not improving fast enough for me to continue at this professional level in the sport of cycling.
“I love the sport of cycling so to only be able to perform at 50 percent of my best because of my health has been very frustrating. I miss the rider I use to be – the aggressive one attacking nonstop throughout the race,” he continued. “Therefore, I have made a really tough decision to change my focus away from racing. I have to get my body and my health right – that’s all that counts. But in the end I can be proud because I know I gave it my best until the end.”
Cozza, 26, turned pro in 2007 and rode for four seasons with Garmin, earning some solid results in Europe in one-day races such as Milan-San Remo and other small stage races. Last season, he joined NetApp, helping the upstart team gain some credibility with race organizers. Lingering health problems took the wind out of his sails, however, and he felt he just couldn’t carry on.
“Steven was so crucial for helping our young team to advance. After our first year he was brave enough to believe in our ambitious plans. I take my hat off to this very private decision to pause the stressful side of life and to recharge his batteries,” says Ralph Denk, Team NetApp team manager.