Published: 16th Apr 2024 Images: Scottish Cycling

Anna Shackley hangs up her wheels

World Championship bronze medallist Anna Shackley has been forced to prematurely end her cycling career after a series of medical tests revealed heart issues.

In a statement from her team SD Worx-Proxtime, it was revealed that the 22-year-old was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia in January.

Following this, she underwent a heart screening in the Netherlands in collaboration with the SD Worx-Protime’s medical team, where several irregularities were found.

Anna was immediately taken off the bike to conduct more extensive tests and procedures at the hospital in Barcelona near her hometown of Girona. All this time, Shackley did not train or compete in races as a precaution.

The Milngavie-native, Shackley, came through the Glasgow Riderz from a very active cycling family, competing in the Youth Tour of Scotland as young rider before graduating onto the Scottish Cycling, and later the British Cycling performance programmes as a junior.

The Scot showcased her talent with some excellent performances as a junior on the road and the track, claiming a number of Scottish national titles.

In 2019 Shackley impressed on her UCI road debut at the Women’s Tour of Scotland, claiming 13th place in the overall and the award for the best Scottish rider, before making her UCI World Championship debut in Harrogate later in the season.

A move from the track programme of Great Britain Cycling Team to the road with the UCI Women’s WorldTour Team SD Worx came in 2021, with Shackley immediately capturing the attention of fans in Britain and beyond.

Strong rides at Amstel Gold Race and Brabantse Pijl saw the Scot selected for Team GB for the delayed Tokyo Olympics, where she rode excellently in support of Lizzie Deignan, as well as producing a solid performance in the time trial.

The year would round off with Shackley becoming the first Scot to claim victory at the prestigious Ras na mBan in Ireland, as well as becoming the British U23 Time Trial Champion.

Next came selection for Team Scotland at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where she supported Neah Evans in the road race, leading out the Aberdeenshire rider as she claimed silver.

A plethora of road performances in the late season saw the Scot rise cement her status as a rising star in the women’s peloton, including an excellent seventh at La Vuelta Femenina.

Last summer Shackley produced a marvellous performance on home roads as the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, as she won the very final medal of the championships claiming a fantastic bronze in the Women’s Under-23 road race to round off the best week of cycling Scotland has seen in front of a massive crowd in Glasgow.

Shackley joined a strong Great Britain team, but knew she had to chance to get her hands on some silverware on home roads, the Glaswegian telling the media beforehand that she could probably ride the course blindfolded!

To the fore up the main climb on the day, Crow Road – a climb she won the Scottish National Hill Climb championships on five years prior – Shackley was always attentive, making sure she was in the first 10-20 wheels around the technical city centre circuit, and always looking in control. With the pace these women were flying round the streets, the cream quickly rose to the top, as a lead group of some 20 riders went clear, Anna amongst them.

Coming down the finish straight to George Square it was clear it would be a bunch sprint, not something that is Shackley’s natural forte, but she mixed it with the rest of the group to come home 17th overall and third U23 – and end up on the Glasgow podium.

After that performance, she said:

“I’m pretty stoked; I didn’t know what to expect today on the course but I was just so happy to be racing on roads I grew up riding on. When we got to the course, my legs didn’t feel so good, but so neither did everyone else’s, and I just held on and I’m very happy with my bronze medal.”

“I’ve never seen my name written on the ground before and it was very nice to see. I had so many friends that don’t cycle watching on the course today and yeah that was really nice. I could hear them cheering me on!”

Speaking on the news of her retirement, Scottish Cycling Endurance Coach, Evan Oliphant said:

“Our thoughts are with Anna after hearing her news this morning, she was a rising star in the women’s peloton who continued to exceed expectations in Scottish, British or SD Worx colours.

“Anna always rode to her best for Scotland and was an absolute joy to be around when representing her country with Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“We wish Anna all the best with her next steps away from the peloton.”

Stephen Park, Great Britain Cycling Team Performance Director, said:

“We’re incredibly sorry to hear Anna’s news today, she was an asset to the sport, both on and off the bike and will be a real loss to the peloton.

“We have offered Anna our full support now and in the future, and wish her all the best in managing her condition and her next steps. We’re sure she’ll be brilliant at whatever she does next.”