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Contador reconfirms 2016 retirement; targets Tour-Rio in swan song

After bypassing Richmond, Alberto Contador has reconfirmed that the 2016 season will likely be his last, with targets of the Tour and Rio.

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Far away from the UCI Road World Championships, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) reconfirmed that next season will be his last.

The 2015 Giro d’Italia champion is bypassing the road worlds this week, but Spain’s “pistolero” is already thinking about next season, which he reiterated will be his last.

“The idea is to end my racing career at the conclusion of next season,” Contador said in Milan during a presentation of his development teams. “Of course, if something happens like a crash in 2014, but the idea is end things then.”

And in typical Contador style, he wants to go out in style, targeting the Tour de France and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games for his swansong.

Contador, who turns 33 in December, has hinted more than a few times that next season will likely his last, and his comments this week in Milan reveal he hasn’t changed his mind.

This season, Contador took on the elusive double, trying to win the Giro and Tour de France in the same season. He got the first part right, taking a hard-fought victory in Italy, but he could only muster fifth overall at the Tour.

Next season, the Tour and a chance to win Olympic gold will take priority. A challenging climber’s course in Rio, featuring four steep climbs per lap over two circuit courses, has Contador believing in his chances.

“Next year, the main goal will be the Tour,” Contador said, also reconfirming he would not defend his Giro title in 2016. “The route at the Olympic Games in Rio is very hard, and if all goes well, I’d like to be part of the Spanish national team for the Olympics.”

Contador ended his season after the Tour, and bypassed at racing in Richmond, where the classics-style course did not suit his style of racing. He also skipped last year’s worlds Spain, much to the chagrin of national coach, Javier Minguez.

Contador’s most recent worlds appearance came in 2013, when he pulled out of the elite men’s road race in Italy.

With next year’s worlds set for a sprinter-friendly course in Qatar, Contador looks likely to join the list of cycling greats who never won the rainbow jersey. A climber and grand tour specialist, Contador never put much emphasis on the worlds.

In fact, he only raced in three worlds throughout his career. The first didn’t come until 2008, and he pulled out of the race in Varese, Italy. He posted another DNF in 2013, and scored his only official worlds results in 2012, when he was ninth in the individual time trial, and 37th in the road race.

After retirement, Contador said his focus will be on developing new talent, an effort that is already in place with his Fundación Alberto Contador, which boasts junior and U23 teams. Contador said he would like to create a new Spanish professional team following his retirement.