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 (opens in new tab): “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.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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