Pollen allergies force double Olympic champion Absalon to hang up wheels

France's Julien Absalon, pictured in 2016, said allergies to pollen had played a major role in his decision to retire

France's double Olympic mountain bike champion Julien Absalon announced his retirement from the sport on Monday citing his allergy to pollen.

A five-time world champion, Absalon also won Olympic gold in mountain biking's cross country discipline at Beijing (2008) and London (2012).

Absalon launched his own team, Absolute Absalon earlier this season.

But he said allergies to pollen had played a major role in his decision.

"I've been suffering from allergies to pollen in the south of France for the past three years, mostly at the start of the season," Absalon told the L'Equipe.fr website.

"The doctor told me it would only get worse."

Absalon is also allergic to pollen in the north of Europe, a condition that leaves him "struggling to breathe" and "with a taste of blood in my windpipe".

Although a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) certificate -- used by many top athletes and cyclists -- would allow him to relieve the symptoms, he added: "I don't like to take too many medicines."

He added: "My main aim is now to focus 100 % on my team Absolute Absalon and dedicate myself to managing it full time."

France's Julien Absalon, pictured in 2016, said allergies to pollen had played a major role in his decision to retire