Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has announced that he will retire from professional cycling at the end of the present season.
Purito made the emotional statement to journalists on the first rest day of the 2016 Tour de France in Andorra, where he lives.
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The 37-year-old is in his 16th season as a professional cyclist. He presently sits fifth on the general classification at the Tour de France, 37 seconds behind the yellow jersey of Chris Froome (Team Sky).
A podium finish is within his ability, but over the years he has been something of a nearly man; most notably when he finished second at the 2012 Giro d’Italia behind Ryder Hesjedal.
Purito held the overall lead from stage nine until stage 19 (bar one stage in the middle), only losing on the final stage time trial to finish just 16 seconds behind the Canadian overall.
The Spaniard boasts stage wins in all three Grand Tours but could never get to the top step of the podium in the final classification.
Video is in Spanish
Rodriguez said, “2016 will be my last season as a professional rider. I still enjoy this sport so much but I am 37 years old. One day I will have to stop anyway and I prefer to do this when I am still riding at a high level.
“I spoke about this already last year with my family. 2016 is a special year with the Tour de France coming to my Andorra,” he contined.
“There are also the Olympic Games in Rio on a course that suits me very well. The most important reason to stop however is my family. They deserve to have me more with them. They always supported me. Now it’s my turn to support them.”
He went on to say he wouldn’t now just sit back and ride out the season: “I will give my maximum like I did my whole career. I would be happy to finish my Tour career in the top ten, but of course I still dream of another overall podium in Paris.
“The support I got yesterday on the Pyrenees roads helps me to go on till my last day in cycling. For the moment I have no idea what will be my last race. In theory Rio and Tour of Spain are still on my programme.”
Purito looked back at his long career in his statement including two victories at the Tour of Lombardy and a Spanish national championships win.
“I have so many memories. Now I think of my super year 2012 with Il Lombardia in the pouring rain but also I think of my silver medal at the 2013 World Championships. Not to have won there still hurts but that’s cycling.”
Over such a long career he’s seen the sport change, something he touched on in his comments. “In those 17 years I lived so many things in cycling. The sport of 2016 has nothing to do anymore with cycling in 2000 when I started. I saw so many things and so many good riders, from Johan Museeuw to Nairo Quintana.”
Despite never winning a Grand Tour he has a palmarès in the biggest races that many would love to finish their career with.
Rodriguez finished second overall in the Vuelta a España in 2015 and second there in 2012. He counts two other Grand Tour podium places in his career: third in the Tour de France (2013), second in the Giro d’Italia (2012).