Team Bahrain Victorious has announced that Rafael Valls has decided to retire after 11 seasons on the WorldTour, despite still having a contract that runs until the end of 2022.
The Spanish rider says he came to the decision to retire after carefully weighing up his options, concluding that he can no longer compete at the elite level.
In a team statement, Valls said: “I’ve decided to stop racing from next season. In the summer, following the Giro, I had agreed to continue in 2022. However, after consideration over the past few weeks, I’ve decided to stop.
"I always want to compete at my best and perform at my highest level. But, after suffering several crashes over the years, I’ve got to be honest, and I don’t think I’m in the mindset to compete at that level.
"Now I will take time away from cycling and focus on me and my family. I will always be grateful to the management and staff at Team Bahrain Victorious, who have been very supportive over the last two seasons.”
Involved in the Bahrain Victorious squad that picked up two stage wins at the 2021 Giro d'Italia through Gino Mäder and Damiano Caruso, Valls has subsequently decided that he can't continue as a pro cyclist.
The 34-year-old joined the Bahrain-based team at the beginning of 2020, but in his first race with the team on stage two of the Tour Down Under he suffered a sacral fracture.
Valls was then involved in a severe crash on the opening stage of the Tour de France that year, where he suffered a broken femur in his fifth and final Tour appearance. With his season ended early in 2020, the Spaniard returned in 2021 with strong performances.
However, these injuries sustained from crashes weren't the first experiences for Valls. In 2017, his season ended early after fracturing his hip in a training ride crash just after the Tour de Pologne.
Clearly, these incidents have taken a mental and physical toll on Valls, culminating in his decision to retire.
Valls rode for Vacansoleil, Lotto, Movistar and Lampre in his professional career, before ending up with Bahrain Victorious for the final two seasons. In 2015 he won the Tour of Oman, and in 2010 he narrowly missed out on a stage win at the Tour de France during his first professional season, finishing second on the mountain stage to Station des Rousses.
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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