Alejandro Valverde has ruled out returning to racing before the end of the 2017 season, arguing that it's not worth risking a setback in his recovery from injury.
The Spaniard hasn't raced since the first day of July when he crashed out of the Tour de France on the opening-day time trial. He fractured his kneecap and talus bone when he slid across the road and into the barriers, and he remained in Germany for a week to undergo surgery.
Valverde's rehabilitation progressed quicker than expected in the early stages and, after getting the all-clear to start riding his bike again in the second half of August, there was talk of him returning to competition at the all-new Tour of Guangxi in China in the second half of October.
However, the 37-year-old, speaking at the unveiling of a new Movistar kit and women's team on Monday, confirmed that his comeback will have to wait until 2018.
"From the first moment I knew it was serious. Luckily, I was able to be operated on in Germany very quickly, and the post-op went perfectly," he said.
"It's true that I thought about returning in China, but I quickly spoke about it with the team and we decided to stop. It's six days, a beating. There was no need to risk anything."
Valverde then hinted he will open his 2018 season in Australia. In recent seasons he has begun his campaigns at the Trofeo Mallorca series in Spain in January, and the last time he went to Australia was to open the 2012 season on his comeback from a doping ban.
"Maybe Australia will be the moment to come back," he said.
On offer are the Tour Down Under and the one-day Cadel Evans road race, both WorldTour events, along with the Herald Sun Tour.