Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) has won the 2014 Tour of the Basque Country.
The multiple Grand Tour winner continued an impressive return to his very best form by wrapping up overall victory with a second-placed finished in the final stage time trial. World champion, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), was the only man faster.
Contador’s victory was the second major triumph of the year for the Spaniard, who won Tirreno-Adriatico last month and who finished second overall at the Volta a Catalunya and Volta ao Algarve.
Tinkoff-Saxo directeur sportif, Philippe Mauduit, said the Spaniard was “super strong at the moment.”
“He rode elegantly, regularly and with enormous power in the pedals. We knew that he was the best climber here and today he demonstrated that he’s one of the very best time trialists as well finishing only seven seconds behind the world champion.”
Contador was made to work until the end for his third career victory in the Basque Country. Michal Kwitakowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), who bested the Spaniard at the Volta ao Algarve, delivered another impressive performance to leap from seventh to second on the general classification.
Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) suffered a disappointing final day. He finished eighth on the stage, some 1.02 behind Martin, and more importantly 55 seconds behind Contador, and 40 seconds behind Kwitakowski. The net result saw him cascade down the GC from second to fifth.
Third overall was claimed by Jean Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale), hero of the ‘double d’Huez’ stage of last year’s Tour de France, who joined Contador and Kwiatkowski on the podium by finishing fifth in the race of truth.
Contador’s victory will give him a massive confidence boost at the end of an early season period of pre-Grand Tour stage races in which he has fared considerably better than any of his rivals for the greatest prize in cycling.
“For Alberto this is another boost of confidence which he needed before going home training to prepare for the Tour de France,” Mauduit said.
Defending champion, Chris Froome (Team Sky), whose own preparation has been disrupted by illness and injury, will have taken note of the Spaniard’s renaissance.
Tour of the Basque Country 2014: stage six – result
1) Tony Martin (GER) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 38.33
2) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo +7″
3) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +15″
4) Simon Spilak (SLO) – Katusha +16″
5) Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +35″
6) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Shimano +38″
7) Jon Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar +41″
8) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +1.02
9) Tejay Van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing +1.05
10) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ.fr +1.25
1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo +21.09.11
2) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +49″
3) Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +1.04
4) Simon Spilak (SLO) – Katusha – ST
5) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar
6) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing +1.56
7) Cadel Evans (USA) – BMC Racing – ST
8) Iurii Trofimov (RUS) – Team Katusha +2.13
9) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ.fr +2.14
10) Wout Poels (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +2.26