March 29, 2019 / 5:13 PM / a month ago

Cycling - World champion Valverde to retire after 2021 season

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - UCI Road Cycling World Championships - Innsbruck-Tirol, Austria - September 30, 2018 Spain's Alejandro Valverde celebrates with his medal on the podium after winning the Men's Elite Road Race REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

(Reuters) - World champion Alejandro Valverde will retire from professional cycling in 2021, the Spaniard was quoted as saying on Friday.

“In principle I will retire in 2021... I will do one more year after the Tokyo Olympics. I think that’s fine,” the Movistar rider told El Periodico.

The 38-year-old, who won the rainbow jersey for the first time in Innsbruck, Austria, last year, won the Vuelta a Espana in 2009, also finishing third in the 2015 the Tour de France and in the 2016 Giro d’Italia.

He also won the oldest of the classic one-day races, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, four times, and the Fleche Wallonne a record five times.

Valverde was given a two-year suspension from the sport in 2010 for his implication in the Operation Puerto blood-doping investigation, even though he never failed a dope test.

He will take part in the Giro and the Vuelta this year before defending his world title in Yorkshire.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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