Tour de France and Vuelta champion pays tribute to rival after final race in Shanghai

Alberto Contador’s retirement signifies the “end of an era” for professional cycling, according to Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana champion Chris Froome.

The Team Sky rider was speaking after the 34-year-old Spaniard, one of six men to have won all three Grand Tours, rode the final race of his career at the inaugural Tour de France China Criterium in Shanghai today.

Froome said: "It definitely brings an end to an era with Alberto's retirement," adding that Contador “has been a big rival to me for so many years and in some ways I'm definitely going to miss him, and in some ways I'm not.

"He has animated so many races the last few years and the public are going to miss seeing him race."

Contador’s swansong in a major race came at the Vuelta last month where, on the penultimate day and out of contention for the overall title, he launched an attack on the Angliru to take the final Grand Tour stage victory of his career.

Wearing Trek-Segafredo’s colours for the final time in competition today, Contador finished fourth in the exhibition race, which covered 20 laps of a three-kilometre circuit in the heart of Shanghai.

The race was won by Froome, in the yellow jersey of Tour de France champion, from the runner-up in Paris in July, Rigoberto Uran of Cannondale Drapac.  Team Sunweb’s Warren Barguil was third.

"It was my last race and I really enjoyed it,” Contador said of his efforts today. “I tried to attack, attack, attack.”

He will remain involved in cycling, however, with his Alberto Contador Foundation running Trek-Segafredo’s new under-23 development team which will be managed by his brother Fran, with two-time Giro d’Italia champion Ivan Basso overseeing the sporting side.

> Trek Segafredo sets up development team in partnership with Alberto Contador Foundation

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.