Spaniard Alejandro Valverde celebrated the second Volta a Catalonia win of his career by winning the final stage on Sunday in Barcelona.

BARCELONA (AFP) – Spaniard Alejandro Valverde completed his second Volta a Catalunya win on Sunday with his third stage win of the seven-day race to top an all Spanish podium from Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Movistar teammate Albert Soler.

Valverde, 36, added to his victories on stage three and five on the 138.7km stage around Barcelona with an eight-lap circuit to finish in 3 hours 8 minutes 50 seconds.

Colombian Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) was second ahead of Frenchman Arthur Vichot (FDJ) in third.

Valverde extended his winning margin over Contador to 1 minute 3 seconds with Soler 1:16 back.

Stage 7, top 10

General classification, top 10

The scale of Valverde’s win is even more impressive given every Movistar rider was handed a one minute penalty for infringements by Jose Joaquin Rojas in Tuesday’s team time trial.

Movistar had won the time trial until they were penalized for Rojas giving his teammates a push.

“Inside the team we knew it was an injustice,” said Valverde. “They deprived us of our great time trial. I wanted to win (before) but I wanted to win even more after what happened.”

Victory continues a stellar start to the season for Valverde after also beating Contador by a second to the Tour of Andalusia and winning the one day Tour of Murcia for a fifth time in February.

“I started well, but every day that went by I felt better,” he said. “Even today in a demanding short stage with a very tough finale I felt even better than in the previous days.”

It is the third time Contador has finished second in four races this season as the two-time Tour de France winner was also runner-up in Paris-Nice earlier this month.

“We weren’t able to win, Alejandro was very strong on all terrains and we have to congratulate him,” said Contador, who is in his first season with Trek-Segafredo.

“But I am happy with my performances at the start of the season.”

With more than three minutes down on the winner, Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), who had declared that “(his) season started in Catalonia”, finished 10th, less than in 2016 (sixth).

Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) ended down in 30th overall, over 28 minutes behind Valverde.

The vast majority of the damage to the Briton competing in his first European race of the season was done on Saturday when he was left behind as the peloton split early on and lost over 26 minutes.

Froome attempted to make amends with an unexpected attack on the final lap around the Catalan capital. But he was quickly reeled in by the leaders with 5km to go and ended up losing another 1:04 on the stage in finishing 48th.

Stage 7 results

General classification