Alberto Contador's retirement marks 'end of an era' for cycling, says Chris Froome
Last Updated: 29/10/17 8:44am
Alberto Contador's final race on Sunday marks the "end of an era" for cycling, Tour de France champion Chris Froome said, while adding that he won't necessarily miss the competitive Spanish legend.
Both riders were part of a breakaway group that sprinted to the finish on Sunday in the Tour de France's first China Criterium in Shanghai, which Contador said would be his last race.
Froome, who this year became the first rider since 1978 to win the Tour and the Vuelta a Espana double in the same year, took the inaugural Shanghai race in a late sprint just ahead of Colombia's Rigoberto Uran and Warren Barguil of France.
"It definitely brings an end to an era with Alberto's retirement," said Froome. "(Contador) has been a big rival to me for so many years and in some ways I'm definitely going to miss him, and in some ways I'm not.
"He has animated so many races the last few years and the public are going to miss seeing him race."
The 34-year-old Contador announced in August that he would hang up his spurs this year, ending a career in which he became just the sixth rider to win all three grand tours.
But his reign as perhaps the top rider of his generation has also been dogged by doping suspicions.
He enjoyed a hero's welcome whenever he passed the crowds lining the Shanghai city circuit for the China Criterium, however, and he went out fighting.
"It was my last race and I really enjoyed it. I tried to attack, attack, attack," Contador said.
But he was unable to keep the pace down the final stretch ended up fourth.
The Shanghai race was staged for the first time as part of the Tour de France's efforts to boost its brand in China, a country often called the "kingdom of bicycles".
The race involved 20 laps around a 3-kilometre (1.9-mile) street circuit, and was organised by ASO, the same company that holds the Tour de France.
Bicycles have long been the workhorse of urban transport for China's masses, but recreational cycling also is on the rise as incomes and leisure pursuits increase.
"Cycling at the moment is a very European-dominated sport so it's great to bring cycling out to these places that don't get to experience what Europeans get to experience on their doorstep," Froome said.
"So it's great for the globalisation of cycling and of sports in general."