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Beloki joins involuntary retiree list

Three time Tour de France podium finisher Joseba Beloki announced that he will retire from cycling on Friday, after trying but failing to find a team for 2008. The former ONCE rider was one of the strongest challengers to Lance Armstrong's string Tour de France victories until a tragic crash on melting tarmac brought him crashing down in 2003. Beloki went on to recover from a broken femur and other injuries, but was never to regain the same level of competition.

"I'm leaving with my head held high, and proud of what I've achieved," Beloki told AFP. "It's been 18 months since I last raced. And in that time I've fought tooth and nail to try and find a team, but it just didn't materialise."

Beloki now joins the ranks of cycling's old guard who wish to continue racing but cannot find contracts, including former World Champion Laurent Brochard and Spain's Oscar Sevilla.