(Reuters) - Triple winner Alberto Contador will wear bib number one in his farewell Vuelta a Espana later this month as the Spaniard prepares to bring his career to and end.
Contador, who announced on Monday this year’s Vuelta would be his last professional race, will be bidding for a fourth title after his triumphs in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
The number one bib is usually reserved for the defending champion, but organizers have broken with tradition and handed it to the Trek-Segafredo rider.
“That Alberto chooses Spain and La Vuelta to call it a career is a great honor for the whole organization,” Javier Guillen, general director of the Vuelta, said in a statement.
“We are wholeheartedly grateful to the generosity he always demonstrated as a rider and that he shows once again with this decision. Alberto is — and will forever be — part of the history of cycling in our country and elsewhere.”
Contador is one of only six riders to have won all three Grand Tours, although two of his nine titles (the 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia) were expunged from the record books because of a doping ban.
This year’s three-week race features a strong lineup including Tour de France champion Chris Froome and multiple Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali.
It begins in the French city of Nimes on Aug. 19.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Sudipto Ganguly