BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spain’s twice Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has vowed to continue competing for at least another year after claiming the Tour of the Basque Country title on Saturday.
Contador, 33, declared last year he would retire at the end of the 2016 season but after his Basque triumph with victory in the time trial, he said he would shelve plans to stop racing.
“After going round in circles and discussing it with my family and my people I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy what I’m doing and I’ll put the idea of leaving cycling to one side,” he was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper AS.
“I’ll continue doing what I enjoy and that day (when I retire) will come without warning.
“It sounds crazy but since I announced I was going to quit I received an incredible amount of messages telling me not to retire,” he added.
Contador has won all three professional cycling Grand Tours, winning the 2007 and 2009 Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana in 2008, 2012 and 2014, and the Giro d’Italia in 2008 and 2015.
He won the 2010 Tour de France but was later stripped of the title having tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol and got a two-year suspension.
The Spaniard had blamed the failed test on contaminated meat and denied any wrongdoing.
Tinkoff rider Contador picked up his fourth Tour of the Basque Country title on Saturday after finishing first in the stage six time trial in 29 minutes 13 seconds, five seconds ahead of Colombian Nairo Quintana.
That win gave him first place in the general classification, 12 seconds ahead of Colombian Sergio Henao of Team Sky, earning the Spaniard his first title this year after he narrowly missed out on victory in Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya in March.
“I have had a very tough winter and this brings me immense happiness,” said Contador.
Editing by Ken Ferris