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Valverde says he will 'probably' retire in 2021

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) has announced that he plans to continue racing for another two seasons after 2019, but that at the end of 2021 "in principle" he will finally hang up his wheels.

Valverde had previously hinted that his career would end with the Olympic Games in 2020, but now, he told Catalan newspaper El Periodico, he will probably - although it is not absolutely definite - pull down the curtain on his racing as a pro at the end of the following season.

The reigning world champion, Valverde is one of cycling’s longest standing pros, with 19 seasons in his palmares and he will turn 39 next month.

"In principle, in 2021, I will retire, some year it had to come. I will do another season after the Olympic Games in Tokyo," Valverde told El Periodico during the Volta a Catalunya. "I think that would be enough.

"At some point I have to stay home and enjoy being with my family.

"I'll see what I do, if I end up working with my young team of riders that I'm helping to organise back home in Murcia or if I continue working with Eusebio Unzue's team [Movistar]."

Asked if he believed in the curse of the rainbow jersey, Valverde replied, "I've heard of it, and now I'm beginning to notice it, here in the Volta for example, or in the high number of second places that I've been getting this season when last year I would get to be first.

"There's always a rider ahead of me because he's a bit stronger or a bit luckier. In the three stage races I did before the Volta a Catalunya" - Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Vuelta a Murcia and UAE Tour - "I've finished second.

"That's too many second places. But it's also proof that my form is very good and I'm still up there in the action when I race."

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