British Olympic champion Ed Clancy dramatically withdrew from the team pursuit today.

A back injury brought his magnificent 20-year cycling career to an end during which he became the most successful team pursuit rider in history.

Charlie Tanfield will now join Ethan Hayter, Ethan Vernon and Ollie Wood in our team pursuit quartet for the remainder of the Games.

Clancy, 36, of Barnsley, first won an Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit in Beijing and followed that up with gold at London 2012 and again in Rio four years later.

Ed Clancy has announced his retirement (

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Barrington Coombs/Getty Images)

He said: “I’m absolutely gutted that my Olympic career has ended this way, but it would be unfair of me to try to carry on now I have aggravated my back injury.

"Ultimately, I want the rest of the lads to build on the hard work we have done over the past year and a half and give them the best possible chance of making it onto the podium.

"I will be supporting them all the way.”

Clancy, who has been part of the Olympic gold medal-winning team pursuit quartet over the previous three cycles as well as having an Omnium bronze medal to his name, was one of the first riders to earn selection on to British Cycling’s now renowned Academy programme.

Clancy has called time on a 20-year cycling career (

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PA Archive/PA Images)

He won his first world title in the team pursuit in 2005, aged just 20, with five more to follow during his career. Clancy is also the 2010 omnium world champion.

He said: “I’ve spent just over 20 years on the Great Britain Cycling Team and I see it as my family.

"I have achieved more during my time than I ever could have dreamed of, it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.

"It’s been a pleasure, to the extent that if I could go back in time I would do it all over again.

"It’s a tough call, because I’m enjoying it more now than I ever have done, but the difficult choice is usually the right one and right now is the time to go.

"I want to thank everyone – family, friends, coaches, trade teams, sponsors, British Cycling and everyone else who has supported me – my career success has been a big team effort."

"I will be putting all my energy in doing what I can to support the Great Britain Cycling Team out here in Tokyo.”

Clancy is the most successful team pursuit rider in history (

Image:

Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

Stephen Park, Performance Director for British Cycling, said: “I admire Ed for taking the decision to retire from the sport which he still has a strong passion for.

"I know it was tough for him having to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on account of his back issues.

"But his professionalism and honesty led him to make this decision. He can hold his head high knowing he was part of the quartet who posted the fourth fastest time in an event we know would be incredibly competitive.

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“Through his domination in the team pursuit and by winning three consecutive Olympic gold medals, Ed has played a big part in driving the event forward, to the extent where we are witnessing the times we saw posted in Berlin and what we saw yesterday in qualifying.

“Away from the bike, Ed embodies the values of our team and has become a trusted mentor to his younger teammates.

"It’s been a pleasure to support Ed with his fantastic achievements and on behalf of everyone on the Great Britain Cycling Team.

"I wish him the very best of luck for the future, and I hope he keeps some involvement with us.”