José Enrique Gutiérrez – the Spanish rider who finished second to Ivan Basso in the 2006 Giro d’Italia and was later linked to the Operación Puerto doping scandal – says he is retiring because Rock Racing has not been able to secure its future.
“After 12 years as a professional cyclist, I have arrived at the moment to retire,” Gutiérrez announced Friday. “After receiving the news that my team, Rock Racing, with whom I had extended my contract this season, is not continuing after not obtaining a license from the UCI, and considering the point of the season, it would be very difficult to find a new team that could offer me minimum conditions both in economic terms and a racing calendar to continue training like a professional like I always have throughout my career, I have decided to close my professional career.”
Gutiérrez, 35, turned pro in 1998 with Kelme and switched to Phonak in 2004. Following his departure from Phonak in the wake of the Puerto doping scandal, he raced for LPR for two seasons and joined Rock Racing in 2009.
In 2002, the 6-foot-2 Spanish climber won a stage at the Dauphiné Libéré and in 2004 won a stage at the Vuelta a España. His best season was in 2006, when he finished second overall at more than nine minutes behind winner Basso.
That result was soon overshadowed by the unfolding Puerto scandal in Spain, where his name was linked to blood-doping ring. Spanish police claimed that the nickname “Búfalo” and “número 12” belonged to Gutiérrez.
Gutiérrez, however, denied the allegations and never faced suspension. After those allegations, however, he was released by Phonak and struggled to regain winning form.
“I leave cycling satisfied with my results and with a calm conscious knowing that what I achieved I did with a lot of work and sacrifice,” Gutiérrez said Friday.
Gutiérrez said he hopes to remain involved with cycling.