Francisco Mancebo will be the elite men’s peloton’s “abuelo” or “granddad” in 2023.
Following the retirement of Davide Rebellin, who raced in 2022 aged 51, the 46-year-old Spanish rider looks to be the oldest licensed rider in the international peloton next season.
Speaking to the Spanish daily MARCA, Mancebo confirmed he will race in 2023 in his sixth season with Continental team Matrix-Powertag.
In Japan at the Saitama critérium, Mancebo raced alongside the recently retired Alejandro Valverde, who quit racing as the oldest rider in the men’s WorldTour in October at 42.
“We see each other quite a bit because now I am living in Murcia, and sometimes we train together,” Mancebo told MARCA about Valverde. “It’s interesting that now he retires, but I am still here, and others, like [Óscar] Sevilla.”
Mancebo turned pro in 1998, four seasons before Valverde’s pro debut in 2002, but saw his European career cut short when he was linked to the Operación Puerto doping scandal in 2006.
Unlike Valverde, who served a two-year sanction for links to Puerto and returned to the WorldTour, Mancebo had to seek his fortunes internationally with third-tier teams despite not being sanctioned in Puerto.
After a 2007 comeback with a Spanish second-tier team, Mancebo, who turns 47 in March, has been racing for more than a decade with teams across the Middle East and Asia.
The 46-year-old Sevilla, also implicated in the Puerto scandal, has been racing primarily in Colombia since 2011. It’s not confirmed if he will race in 2023.
— Makoto AYANO 綾野 真 (@makotoayano) November 6, 2022
Who will be the oldest in the WorldTour in 2023?
Despite the growing trend of riders turning pro in their teens, riders are making their racing careers last longer than ever before.
Right now, Belgian rider Dries Devenyns of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, who will turn 40 in July, looks likely to be the oldest rider in the men’s WorldTour next year. He signed a one-year contract extension to race in 2023.
The Argentine rider Max Richeze, who came out of retirement in 2022 to join UAE Team Emirates, will be 40 in March, but his future remains uncertain. Triathlete and pro cyclist Cameron Wurf (Ineos Grenadiers) will also be 40 in 2023 if he continues in the WorldTour.
Annemiek van Vleuten, who turns 41 in 2023, will be the oldest rider in the Women’s WorldTour next season.
Olga Zabelinskaya, who raced at the Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad in 2022, turns 43 in May, but it’s uncertain if the rider from Uzbekistan will race in 2023.