Alberto Contador will ride into the sunset with the honorary No. 1 start bib at the upcoming Vuelta a España, his final professional race.
With defending champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) not racing, Vuelta organizers are handing that honor to three-time winner Contador. The Spaniard announced his impending retirement Monday.
“It’s an honor that Contador chooses the Vuelta to retire,” said Vuelta organizer Javier Guillén. “It’s a gift for the Vuelta, and the fans can have a chance to say goodbye to a living legend.”
With Quintana not racing, it was an easy choice for the race organization to give the bib to Contador. Guillén said the organization cannot be happier with how the start list is shaping up for the season’s final grand tour.
“With Contador, the start list at the Vuelta couldn’t have been better,” Guillén said. “We’re only missing [Sunweb’s Tom] Dumoulin. After losing [Movistar’s Alejandro] Valverde with injury, we were missing a big Spanish star. And Contador is the best.”
Contador’s decision to end his career at the Vuelta is the latest big name to confirm his presence for the August 19 start in Nimes, France. Others who have confirmed include Chris Froome (Sky), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Fabio Aru (Astana).
Others expected to start include former winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Esteban Chaves and Simon and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha).
The Vuelta starts August 19 in Nimes, France, and ends September 10 in Madrid.
Top names on Vuelta preliminary start list:
Astana: Fabio Aru, Miguel Ángel López, Luis León, Pello Bilbao
Ag2r-La Mondiale: Romain Bardet, Domenico Pozzovivo
Bahrain-Merida: Vincenzo Nibali, Giovanni Visconti
BMC Racing: Tejay van Garderen, Damiano Caruso, Samuel, Nicolas Roche, Rohan Dennis, Brent Bookwalter
Bora-Hansgrohe: Rafal Majka, Leopold Konig, Patrick Konrad, Emmanuel Buchman
Cannondale-Drapac: Joseph Dombrowski, Davide Formolo, Andrew Talansky, Lawson Craddock
Movistar: Carlos Betancur, Dani Moreno, Rubén Fernández, Marc Soler
Dimension Data: Omar Fraile, Igor Antón, Serge Pauwels, Ben King
Sky: Chris Froome, Wout Poels, Mikel Nieve, Diego Rosa
UAE-Emirates: Rui Costa, Darwin Atapuma, Louis Meintjes
Acqua Blue: Lasse Norman Hansen, Adam Blythe, Larry Warbasse
Cofidis: Dani Navarro, Luis Ángel Maté, Van Genechten
FDJ: Sebastien Reichenbach, Anthony Roux
Orica-Scott: Esteban Chaves, Adam Yates, Simon Yates
Katusha-Alpecin: Ilnur Zakarin, Baptiste Planckaert
Sunweb: Warren Barguil, Wilco Kelderman, Chad Haga
Caja Rural: Jaime Rosón, David Arroyo, Sergio Pardilla
Lotto-Soudal: Rafael Valls, Thomas De Gendt, Jens Debusschere
Quick-Step: Bob Jungels, David De la Cruz, Julian Alaphilippe, Enric Mas
LottoNL-Jumbo: Steven Kruijswijk, George Bennet, Juanjo Lobato
Trek Segafredo: Alberto Contador, John Degenkolb, Jarlinson Pantano, Pete Stetina, Greg Daniel, Kiel Reijnen
Manzana Postobón: Juan Sebastián Molano, Jetse Bol, Ricardo Vilela