Alberto Contador's illustrious career has had its ups and downs. Next month's Vuelta a Espana will the the Spaniard's final race - have a look at the highs and lows.
Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has announced that he will retire following next month’s Vuelta a Espana.
The Spanish cyclist has a total of seven Grand Tour victories, and is one of only six riders to have won all three Grand Tours – the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a Espana.
Here’s a look at the highs and lows of his illustrious career.
2007 – A GRAND BREAKTHROUGH
After his first team Liberty Seguros are dissolved, he joins the Discovery Channel team and wins the iconic Paris-Nice for the first time.
Greater glory comes in France when he claims his first stage at the Tour before going on to win his first Grand Tour by 23 seconds from Cadel Evans at the age of 24, the youngest in a decade.
2008 – HOME GLORY
New team Astana are banned from entering the 2008 Tour, due to previous doping infringements, meaning Contador cannot defend his title.
However, he wins the Giro d’Italia at the first time of asking and then follows it up in September by capturing his first Vuelta a Espana crown, beating a strong field including countryman and Tour de France winner Carlos Sastres.
Contador becomes the first Spaniard to win all three Grand Tours, the fifth overall and the youngest in history (25).
2009 – DOMINATING ARMSTRONG
After his return from retirement, the then-legendary Lance Armstrong joins Contador at Astana setting in motion a power struggle for the Tour de France.
Contador, though, proves the American is old news riding to GC victory for a second time.
2014 – CAREER COMEBACK
Following his doping ban and a lean spell during the 2013 season – in which he was publicly criticised by team boss Oleg Tinkov – Contador enjoyed a final flourish to his career.
He endured disappointment at the 2014 Tour de France but fought back at the Vuelta, out-climbing Chris Froome to take the red jersey.
2004 – LIFE IN DOUBT
In just his second year as a professional with ONCE–Eroski in 2004, Contador felt ill during the Vuelta a Asturias and went into convulsions during the race before falling into a coma for 10 days.
He was later diagnosed with cerebral cavernoma, a congenital vascular disorder, and required surgery which kept him sidelined for six months.
2007 – IT’S A TEAM SPORT
His Liberty Seguros team are left out of the Tour de France after a number of their riders are embroiled in the Operacion Puerto doping scandal.
Contador is later cleared by the UCI, but his involvement with the Spanish team means he is not allowed to ride in the Tour.
2010 – WHAT A DOPE
Contador reveals he tested positive for banned steroid clenbuterol during 2010 Tour de France – which he “won” – but claims food contamination is “the only possible explanation”.
After nearly two years of legal arguments and several delays to his hearing – which allowed him to finish fifth at the 2011 Tour in which he’s roundly booed by fans throughout – he is banned for two years (backdated to 2011) and stripped of his 2010 Tour title and 2011 Giro d’Italia.
Despite success on the road in Europe, Contador has never delivered at the Olympic Games.
In 2008, he did not finish the road race amid hot and humid conditions in Beijing and was fourth in the individual time trial.
He was banned for London 2012 while injuries denied him a place in Rio last year.