Double Olympic cycling champion Rowsell-Shand retires

Britain's Joanna Rowsell-Shand (2nd left) was a member of the team pursuit quartet that won gold during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Double Olympic cycling track gold medallist Joanna Rowsell-Shand brought the curtain down on her stellar career on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old -- who stood out from her team-mates because of the loss of her hair through alopecia -- won team pursuit gold both in the London Games in 2012 and in Rio last year.

"Having been part of the GB Cycling Team for over 10 years, travelling around the world racing my bike, today I am announcing my retirement from international cycling competition," she said in a statement on her website, joannarowsell.com.

Rowsell-Shand -- who was also a five-time world champion, four in the team pursuit and one individual pursuit crown -- also gave some much-needed praise to British Cycling, the subject of adverse headlines for the past year over sexism and bullying allegations.

"I want to thank the amazing team at British Cycling," said Rowsell-Shand.

"From the world class team behind the team who work tirelessly to ensure we have the best preparation for events, to the very first youth coaches who talent spotted me back when I was 15.

"I couldn’t have done it without you!

"I have enjoyed this fabulous career and the decision to step away has been the hardest I've ever had to make, but now is the time for me to move on

"I believe I have more to offer the world and I'm now looking forward to the next phase of my life and new challenges."

British Cycling hailed Rowsell-Shand, tweeting: "One of the best there has ever been. What an incredible British Cycling team career for @JoRowsellShand. #GoodluckJoanna."

She also received a warm tribute from Olympic team pursuit team-mate Laura Trott.

"I will miss you @joannarowsellshand.Congratulations on such a wonderful career," wrote Trott, now married to men's track great Jason Kenny, on her Instagram account.

"I have been lucky enough to have you there when my own journey began and have loved every minute of it. Good luck in your next chapter."

Rowsell-Shand -- who was also Commonwealth Games individual pursuit champion in 2014 -- is to coach and will compete in L'Etape du Jour in July.

"I’m also training for L'Etape du Tour in July -- riders take on one of the stages of the Tour de France -- which will be my longest bike ride ever," she said.

"Being more accustomed to racing for 4km, the challenge of riding 180km in mountainous terrain will be a long way from what I am used to but I am never one for shying away from a tough target."