Benjamin Noval, a low-profile Spanish domestique who was so strong he earned the nickname “el toro,” has quietly ended his 14-year professional career.
Noval, 34, was one of the closest allies and teammates of Alberto Contador on Saxo-Tinkoff, and was a part of many of the Spaniard’s victories over the past seven years.
The Spanish rider from Asturias was forced out of this year’s Tour in stage 9 after injuring his hand from a collision with a fan holding a camera during the team time trial.
Noval said that despite a contract offer for 2014, he would end his cycling career.
“I have pondered my decision for quite a long time,” Noval wrote in a letter to fans (see below). “Although I was asked to continue, I’ve decided to end my career.”
Noval was also among the last active teammates of Lance Armstrong, and rode on two of the Texan’s now-disqualified seven Tour de France victories.
While other former Armstrong teammates are still active in the peloton, including Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), who was one of 11 riders who testified against the Texan, Noval was among the last active rider who rode as part of Armstrong’s infamous “blue train” at the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams from 1999-2005.
The only remaining rider from the 2005 Discovery Channel team is Yaroslav Popovych.
Letter from Noval
The aim of this letter is to inform you that my time as a professional cyclist has come to an end. I have pondered my decision for quite a long time and, although I was asked to continue, I’ve decided to end my career.
At the same time, I want to thank all the teams I worked with: RELAX Fuenlabrada who gave me the opportunity to make my debut as a professional cyclist. Discovery Channel, Astana Team and Saxo Bank who relied on me for 14 years and I tried hard to repay them with honesty, humility, sacrifice and a professional attitude. I proudly assumed my work as a domestique at the service of the team leaders. I especially wish to thank the teams and colleagues who helped me to enter the world of professional cycling ; without their help I would have never achieved it: Extensiones Sabino, Banesto amateur and Videos Porteros Tegui.
I would also like to use this letter to highlight the role of domestiques, who are essential in any team. They are cyclists who work for the leader and who renounce their own opportunities in a race. I have many domestique colleagues within the peloton who will end up without a team because of the present, unfair points system.
I further wish to thank all the cyclists who I have shared a team and the peloton with, managers, masseurs, the media and race organizers for the support and professional attitude they have shown me all these years. To all my fans, a huge THANK YOU for your loyal support at each race, training session, and especially for encouragement during hard times.
Above all, I want to thank my wife, my children, my parents and my family for sharing with me the sacrifice and the renouncement that this sport entails, for having so much patience and letting me do what I love.
Thank you so much to everybody and HERE’S TO CYCLING!
Pola de Laviana (Asturias), 14th October 2013
— Benjamín Noval González