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AFP / Yuzuru Sunada
Former two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the first stage of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2014 on Monday following a 153.4km ride around Ordizia in northern Spain. The 31-year-old Spaniard came home 14 seconds clear of Movistar rider and compatriot Alejandro Valverde after the two men broke clear of the pack 8km from home.
Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski, 23, riding for Omega-Pharma claimed third spot, 34 seconds behind Contador. Contador, who won the race in 2008 and 2009, is coming off victory in the Tirreno-Adriatico and a second place finish in the Tour of Catalonia. Along with Valverde, the two Spaniards made their move on the final category two climb at Gaintza before Contador took off alone 2km further along the climb.
Earlier an escape of four riders including Italian pair Davide Villela (Cannondale) and Mateo Montaguti (Ag2r) had opened up a lead of 4:40 before being caught by the peloton on the final climb. It then came down to the final attack and eventual victory by Contador who continues his impressive buildup for the Tour de France which begins on July 5 in Leeds, England for the first time. Contador won the fabled Tour de France in 2007 and 2009 before being stripped of his narrow 2010 victory over Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, due to a contested positive doping test.
Stage two on Tuesday is a 155.8km ride from Ordizia to Dantxarinea and features a series of four climbs including a category one slog 50km from home that could shake up the overall rankings. The race culminates on Saturday with the sixth stage, a 25.9km individual time-trial around Markina-Xemein.
Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Stage 1
1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Tinkoff-Saxo) 4:05:07
2. Alejandro Valverde(Spa/Movistar) @ :14
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) @ :34
4. Yury Trofimov (Rus/Katusha) @ :36
5. Damiano Cunego (Ita/Lampre-Merida) @ s.t.
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale)
7. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa/Sky)
8. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC)
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze/Tinkoff-Saxo) @ :54
10. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa/Astana)