OUTGOING professional cyclist Alberto Contador will wear shirt number 1 in the Vuelta a España, his final major competition before he retires.
Normally, the number 1 strip would be worn by the previous year's winner – in this case Colombia's Nairo Quintana – but as he will not be competing in the 2017 Vuelta, organisers have decided to give the honour to the three-times winner who, they say, “has been, is and always will be cycling history in a nutshell in Spain and outside it.”
Contador,34, plans to hang up his cycling helmet and retire from professional riding after this year's Vuelta – Spain's answer to the Tour de France – which he won in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
“I'm not saying this with sadness, but with satisfaction – it's a decision I've thought through very carefully and I don't believe there's any better way of going out with a bang than ending after the biggest race in my home country,” the Madrid-born cyclist said.
Having started out in professional cycling 14 years ago, Contador has won two Tours de France – in 2007 and 2009 – and two Giri d'Italia.
He would have netted another Tour and Giro in 2010 and 2011 respectively, but was disqualified as he tested positive for clembuterol.
The Vuelta a España takes place between August 19 and September 10, and Contador describes it as 'a dream lasting three weeks' – despite its being every bit as tough as the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia.
Riding for team Trek-Segafredo, Contador's last-ever competition as a professional cyclist will kick off from Nîmes, France in 10 days' time.