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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

For Froome, Contador's impending retirement is bittersweet

British champion says Spaniard's exit will mark end of an era in cycling

Chris Froome, second from right, has hailed Alberto Contador, right. AFP
Chris Froome, second from right, has hailed Alberto Contador, right. AFP

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 will not necessarily miss the competitive Spanish hero.

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.

"It definitely brings an end to an era with Alberto's retirement," said Froome, who won the race in another display of dominance after winning a fourth Tour title this year.

"[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," the Briton said, cracking a smile.

"He has animated so many races the last few years and the public are going to miss seeing him race."

Contador, 34, 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," Tour de France quoting him saying.

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But he was unable to keep the pace down the final stretch with Froome, Colombia's Rigoberto Uran and Warren Barguil of France, and ended up fourth.

The race was held for the first time as part of a push by the Tour de France to expand its brand in China's potentially huge cycling market as the sport gains traction in the country.

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