Tue, Jun 16, 2009 - Page 19 News List

‘Angry’ Valverde wins Dauphine Libere No. 2

DOPING SCANDAL Italy’s Olympic Committee has already banned the Spaniard from competition in the country, which effectively bars him from the Tour de France


Spanish team leader Alejandro Valverde, right, Australian Cadel Evans, left, and Spaniard Alberto Contador compete on Sunday in the eighth and final stage of the 61st edition of the Criterium of Dauphine Libere cycling race between Faverges and Grenoble.


Controversial Spaniard Alejandro Valverde on Sunday won his second successive Dauphine Libere after the eighth and final stage was won by Dutchman Stef Clement.

Australia’s Cadel Evans finished second in the general classification for the third year running, with Spain’s 2007 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador third.

Valverde faces a worldwide two-year ban if cycling’s world ruling body, the UCI, acts upon evidence yet to be delivered by the Italian sporting authorities about his alleged involvement in the Operation Puerto doping affair.

Italy’s Olympic Committee has already banned him from racing on Italian soil, apparently ruling him out of the Tour de France, which passes through Italy’s Val D’Aosta region on July 21.

“I don’t show what I feel outwardly. But yes, everything that’s happened makes me angry,” Valverde said. “It’s unjust, but I’m convinced that sooner or later things will be resolved in my favor. What really helps is the backing of my family, my team, my support.”

“Physically, I feel good. Mentally, I sometimes have difficult moments, but then I get over the discouragements,” Valverde said. “My victory last month in the Tour of Catalonia gave me an even bigger motivation to win the Dauphine.”

Despite not having won a stage in the race, as he did en route to victory in the 2008 Dauphine, Caisse d’Epargne rider Valverde dominated proceedings after taking the lead from Evans on Thursday.

The 29-year-old benefited from Contador’s efforts to neutralize Evans in the mountains in a bid to demonstrate his dominance over the Australian prior to the start of this year’s Tour de France on July 4.

At the summit of the last climb during Sunday’s 146km final stage, Valverde rested his hand on Contador’s shoulder as if to thank him for his support, after Evans had made several vain attempts to accelerate away during the ascent.

German time-trial world champion Bert Grabsch enjoyed a long spell as leader before being reeled in 37km from the finish.

Clement, who rides for Rabobank, and the US’ Timothy Duggan took to the front and were joined by France’s Sebastien Joly, all three having been members of an initial 28-man breakaway.

Joly sought to sprint free from his two fellow front-runners with 1,500m to go, only for the 26-year-old Clement to prevail in the dash to the line.

“I knew that I was going to win,” Clement said. “Even when Joly attacked, I kept confident. He’d made a huge effort to come back and I was certain to beat him. I’ve waited for so long to win a race in a sprint!”

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