Alberto Contador to retire after Vuelta a Espana 2017
Multiple Grand Tour winner announces decision to end his career at his home Grand Tour
Multiple Grand Tour champion Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) will call time on his storied professional career after this year’s Vuelta a Espana, the Spaniard has confirmed.
In a video posted to his personal Instagram page, Contador confirmed his participation in the season’s final Grand Tour before stating that it will be his last race as a professional cyclist.
El Pistolero, who turns 35 in December, had initially intended retiring last winter before extending his career for another year following a successful start to the 2016 season.
But the seven-time Grand Tour winner – who also had two further Grand Tour wins scratched from the record after testing positive for clenbuterol in 2010 – is now keen to bow out in his home country.
“I say this happy, without sadness," he said. “It is a decision I have thought out and I don’t think there is a better farewell than in my home race in my home country.
“I’m sure it will be a great three weeks, enjoying all your affection, and I’m eager that they come."
Some reports had initially suggested Contador would extend his contract into 2018, and ride the Giro d’Italia, but the Spaniard’s 18th career Grand Tour (a tally including those he has since had his results annulled for) will now be his last.
He turned professional in 2003 with the ONCE-Eroski team but his career almost ended the following year when he suffered convulsions after falling at the Vuelta a Asturias and was diagnosed with a cerebral cavernoma.
After successfully recovering from surgery, however, he returned to action in 2005 and signed for Astana in 2006.
He was implicated in the Operacion Puerto doping case that same year, and removed from the Tour de France roster, before being cleared of wrongdoing by the UCI.
After signing for Discovery Channel the following year, he won the 2007 Tour de France and started a run of six consecutive Grand Tour victories.
Contador, now back with Astana, won the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2008, to become only the fifth rider to win all three Grand Tours and third to complete a Giro-Vuelta double.
Alberto Contador's Grand Tour wins
- Tour de France: 2007, 2009,
- Giro d'Italia: 2008,
- Vuelta a Espana: 2008, 2012, 2014
He won his second Tour de France in 2009, and defended his title the following year only to discover he had tested positive for clenbuterol on the final rest day.
He has always claimed the minute trace found was due to food contamination, and his appeal against a proposed one-year ban by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) was accepted, freeing him to race with SaxoBank in 2011 and win the Giro d’Italia.
An appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by the UCI and WADA had been lodged in early 2011, but the hearing was delayed, allowing Contador to also ride the Tour de France, where he finished fifth – ending his run of consecutive victories.
His 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia wins were annulled, however, when Contador was handed a back-dated two-year ban for ‘accidental ingestion’ of the prohibited substance.
On his return in 2012, he promptly won the Vuelta a Espana, and won the Spanish Grand Tour for a third time in 2014, just weeks after abandoning the Tour de France with a fractured leg.
Contador’s final Grand Tour win to date came in the 2015 Giro d’Italia, but he fell short in his attempt to claim an historic Giro-Tour double and, indeed, has never been back on the Tour podium since his return to racing.
His 2017 season, his first with Trek-Segafredo, started with second-place finishes at Paris-Nice, the Vuelta a Andalucia, the Volta a Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country but he was hindered by crashes at the Tour de France and – despite animating the race in the Alps – finished ninth overall.
He will now close his career bidding to add to his 67 pro wins (79 prior to his annulled results from 2010-2012), on home roads at the Vuelta a Espana.