Francisco Ventoso, winner of 31 races, has announced his retirement from professional cycling after 17 seasons in the peloton.
The 38-year-old Spaniard, who rode for CCC Team last year, did not have a contract for 2021 and, despite waiting until the new year, has now made the call to hang up his wheels.
"After 17 seasons, I’ve decided it’s time to put an end to my professional career. There have been many great moments, and many not so great, but all have left an indelible mark in my memory and made me the person I am today," he wrote in a statement.
Ventoso turned professional back in 2004, spending four years at Saunier-Duval and picking up a stage win at the Vuelta a España. He moved to the Andalucía-Caja Sur team in 2008 but was handed a nine-month doping ban after testing positive for furosemide, a diuretic that can act as a masking agent. He bounced back at the small-scale Italian Carmiooro team, winning nine races in two years, including Paris-Bruxelles and a stage of the Ruta del Sol.
That earned him a ticket back to the WorldTour with Movistar, where he stayed for six years and enjoyed his biggest successes. He won a stage of the Tour Down Under on his debut and then won stages in back-to-back editions of the Giro d’Italia in 2011 and 2012, when he went on to win the Spanish road race title. Ventoso’s last win came at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes in 2012, and he began to work for others, as a lead-out rider and road captain.
He joined CCC Team - then BMC Racing - in 2017 and became an important part of Greg Van Avermaet’s Classics unit, helping the Belgian to wins at Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He was a fixture at the Giro and Vuelta for the team, taking his Grand Tour tally to 18. Ventoso’s last race came at the Vuelta a España, where he had to abandon on stage 5.
"I’d like to thank everyone - which is a lot of people over 17 years - who helped me, especially the soigneurs at the team’s I’ve ridden for. Those guys are far from the spotlight but break their backs so that we have everything we need," Ventoso said. "Thanks also to the managers who have put their faith in me and allowed me to race the best races in the world over many years.
"Lastly, and most importantly, thanks to my family - those who have always been there, in the moments where the phone didn’t ring so much, and in the bad times. They have always supported me and it’s thanks to them that I have been able to fulfil my dream for 17 years - something I couldn’t have even dreamt of when I started riding at just seven years of age."
Ventoso did not reveal his future plans but hinted he will remain involved in the sport.
"It’s not a goodbye - just a ‘see you soon’. Cycling will still be present in my life, and I hope to be able to share all the experience I’ve gained over the years with the next generations," he said.
"A new chapter is there to be written from today, with new and exciting projects."
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