The triple winner of La Vuelta (Tour of Spain) Alberto Contador will start his last race on August 19th in Nîmes, and as homage to his brilliant career, he’s been assigned the race bib number 1 by ogranisers.
Contador announced last Monday that La Vuelta 2017 will be the last race of his career. It will be the Spaniard’s fifth participation in an event he won three times (2008, 2012 and 2014) and finished fourth in 2016. He never started the race as defending champion in the past, so for the first time, he’ll be identified by the bib number 1 as the organization decided to put his Trek-Segafredo team at the top of the start list.
Contador became the fifth cyclist to win all three Grand Tours at the age of 25 when he made his debut at the Tour of Spain in 20008, one year after he claimed his first Tour de France, and three months after he won his first Giro d’Italia. With this record, he rejoined Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault [only Vincenzo Nibali entered that club since].
On the penultimate day of this year’s La Vuelta, Contador will return to the Alto de l’Angliru where he received his first leader’s jersey nine years ago. It was also his first stage win in a solo effort in the last five kilometres of climbing.
On his second participation, he wasn’t back to his best level of performance yet after a forced six-month break in 2012. Race leader Joaquim Rodriguez looked like he had the red jersey sealed but Contador launched an expected attack in the Collado La Hoz, 52km before the end in the breathtaking surroundings of the Picos de Europa, while some of his team-mates were part of the breakaway, waiting for his action.
In 2014, Contador didn’t seem ready to start La Vuelta after crashing badly at the Tour de France. Ten days prior to the opening team time trial at Jerez de la Frontera, he changed his mind and decided to give it a try. Luck was on his side this time with Nairo Quintana crashing against the clock while wearing the red jersey. Bluffing as much as he possibly could in his fragile shape, he saw off Chris Froome, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez to win the penultimate stage atop Los Ancares and reach the start of the conclusive time trial at Santiago de Compostela with an advantage of 1.37 over Froome.
Contador has been Froome’s nightmare at La Vuelta once again last year when he combined forces with Quintana on stage 15 to Aramon Formigal while the British favourite of the race was trapped at the back.
Following his ninth place overall at the Tour de France last month, the most prolific Grand Tour rider of recent years has decided to call an end to his career before turning 35 in December.