Season over for embattled Vuelta champion Valverde

Spaniard's future in cycling hangs in balance

Tour of Spain champion Alejandro Valverde has brought his season to a premature end admitting he needs rest before beginning to plan his race objectives for next season.

Valverde was due to compete in the Paris-Bourges race on Thursday and the Paris-Tours one-day classic next weekend but after discussions with his Caisse d'Epargne team he has decided to hang up his bike.

"I need to rest both mentally and physically before thinking towards next season and resuming training," said Valverde, who will compete in a few criterium races in the coming weeks.

As well as the three-week Tour of Spain, Valverde also won the Tour of Catalunya and Dauphine Libere stage races earlier this season.

However Valverde failed to live up to expectations and win a medal at the world road race championships last week when Australia's Cadel Evans won the rainbow jersey in Mendrisio Switzerland.

And his future in the sport is hanging in the balance ahead of an upcoming decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Valverde is currently serving a two-year ban in Italy handed down by the country's Olympic Committee (CONI) in May.

CONI claim a blood sample taken from the Spaniard at last year's Tour de France when it passed through Italy matches DNA from a blood bag seized during the 'Operation Puerto' doping scandal that erupted in May 2006.

CAS is currently studying two appeals.

The first is from Valverde protesting against his CONI ban, which meant he could not race this year's Tour de France because it again passed through Italy.

The other is a joint appeal from cycling's ruling body the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) asking CAS to force the Spanish cycling federation, which is supposed to act on any misconduct by their affiliated riders, to open a case against Valverde.

An upcoming CAS decision could give the UCI the legitimacy it needs to ban the Spaniard worldwide.

© 2009 AFP

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