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The long and successful career of Alberto Contador will come to an end in September. The Spanish rider has been in negotiations in recent weeks with his Trek-Segafredo team about a possible new contract but, on Monday, he announced that he was walking away from the sport.
Releasing the news via an Instagram video, Contador said that he will compete in the upcoming Vuelta a España, then hang up his wheels.
“Hi all, I am doing this video to inform you about two things. The first one is that I will ride the next Vuelta a Espana from August 19, and the second is that it will be my last race as a professional cyclist,” he said. “I say this happily, without sadness.
“It’s a decision that I have thought about very well and I don’t think that there is a better farewell than in a home race in my country.
“I am sure they will be three wonderful weeks, enjoying all your affection and I’m looking forward to it.”
Contador is a seven-time Grand Tour winner and one of the most aggressive riders in the sport. He won the 2007 and 2009 Tours de France, the Giro d’Italia in 2008 and 2015, and the Vuelta in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
He has also won multiple editions of Paris-Nice, the Volta al Pais Vasco, the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and the Volta ao Algarve, as well as the Roude du Sud and the Vuelta a Burgos. In addition to that, he topped the podium in the 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro, but later lost both titles due to a clenbuterol positive in the first of those events.
Contador lined out in this year’s Tour believing a new approach would be the key to success. However he failed to shine, partly due to crashes.
Trek-Segafredo team manager Luca Guercilena told CyclingTips that it is also possible that the new approach was too conservative and that he went into the race too far behind his rivals in terms of form.
Contador took ninth overall in the Tour and was also third, eighth and eighth on stages. He ended the race with a strong sixth in the final time trial, suggesting that his form was on the up.
If so, that bodes well for the Vuelta a España, where he will hope to be at his very best and to leave the sport with another big victory.
“It has been an honor to work with such a great champion,” said Guercilena in a team statement. “Alberto Contador has been showing his fighting spirit and his professionalism all year long. To give you one example, in this year’s Tour de France he demonstrated his personal motto in a way we only could admire: ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’
“Even after the crashes that took him out of the fight for the first places in GC, he kept fighting and battling for a stage win and to move up some places in GC. That showed how strong he is, both mentally and physically.”
Although he wanted him to continue with the squad, he accepts the decision. He said that Trek-Segafredo will give him full backing in his final race.
“It was great to have him in the team, even it was only for one season, and we will keep giving it our all to help him to achieve a big result in his last Vuelta a España. And it goes without saying we wish him the very best for his future afterwards.”