Alberto Contador wins ‘La Vuelta' Tour of Spain for the third time
Madrid, Sep 15 (IANS) Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo bank) was crowned as the overall winner of the Vuelta de Espana (Tour of Spain) cycle race ahead of British rider Chris Froome after the end of the final time-trial. The Spaniard finished a minute and 10 seconds ahead of Froome (Team Sky) with compatriot Alejandro Valverde occupying the final place on the podium Sunday.
The Vuelta developed into a head to head battle between Contador and Froome as both riders rode themselves into form in the early mountain stages of the race.
Contador opened up what turned to be a decisive gap in the first time trial, after which Froome admitted he had misjudged his effort and run out of energy in the closing stages.
It is nevertheless a remarkable recovery for Contador, who a month prior to the Vuelta had said he would not be able to ride the race after having broken his leg in a fall on stage nine of the Tour de France. Although, he announced a week before the start he would ride with the hope of targeting a stage win, nobody expected the Spaniard to be in condition to win the three week Grand Tour for the third time in his career.
Froome was also recovering from a broken wrist suffered in the Tour, but his lack of form was more apparent in the early stages of the race, while his injury would not have led to the lack of muscle loss Contador should have suffered after three weeks off his bike.
Nevertheless, the two riders improved as the race went on, although Contador always had a slight edge on the big mountain stages and it was in two of those, including Saturday's epic stage, where he was able to take vital seconds off Froome to assure his crown.
Sunday's final stage was a 9.7 kilometre time-trial in Santiago de Compostela, which was won by Adrian Malori in a time of 11 minutes and 12 seconds on a difficult course made dangerous by rain in Santiago. The wet conditions meant that none of the top three riders were willing to risk their podium positions in trying to pressure their rivals and Froome, an expert in this sort of stage ended over a minute behind Malori, with Contador, who knew he had time to spare a further 27 seconds down.
Meanwhile, the climbers jersey was won by Luis Leon Sanchez, who claimed that thanks to a series of mountain breakaways throughout the race, while John Degenkolb's four stage wins earned him the sprinter's jersey.