It looks as though 2019 could be the year of the comeback, as retired Venezuelan super-climber José Rujano has announced his ambition to win the Vuelta a España.
Rujano, now 36, left the professional peloton in 2013 but said he was inspired to rejoin the sport by the longevity of Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde.
He told Venezuelan newspaper Diario de Los Andres: “I would like to ride in the Vuelta a España, not just riding but being a big name because I always have the optimism and mentality to win.
“I train to win and I feel capable.”
Rujano, winner of three stages of the Giro d’Italia and the overall at the Tour de Langkawi, makes his return to the Vuelta al Tachiri in Venezuela on January 18.
He said he has undergone intense training in recent months in the hopes of succeeding in his comeback.
On why he decided to return, Jujano said: “The realisation came when I saw my son train, I want to restart my career and become and example for the youth.
“And at 38, the fact that [Alejandro Valverde] became world champion at that age gives me confidence.”
During his 10-year pro career, Rujano rode for Quick-Step, Androni Giocattoli and finally WorldTour team Vacansoleil-DCM before his retirement in 2013.
Rujano’s name was mentioned in connection with Operation Amateur, a doping investigation into the trafficking of banned substances.
He denied any involvement, but was dropped from Vacansoleil’s Giro roster regardless, retiring later that year.
His best GC results were in the Giro, where he finished third in 2005 and sixth in 2011.
Rujano is not the only retired rider eyeing a return to the highest level of racing.
Italian Andrea Tafi is on the hunt for a team to support his ambitions of returning to Paris-Roubaix at the age of 52.