Former two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the first stage of the Tour of the Basque Country 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 secs 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 minutes, 40 seconds 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.
In other cycling news, Richie Porte will skip the Giro d’Italia in favor of helping his teammate, Chris Froome, successfully defend his Tour de France title, Team Sky announced on Monday.
Team Sky head of performance support Tim Kerrison said: “Richie was always going to ride the Tour de France this year, but this now means that he can fully focus on being in the best possible shape without having the added challenge of having to ride the Giro as well.”