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Alberto Contador claims Pais Vasco crown; Tony Martin wins final ITT

Contador finishes second in the final time trial behind world champion Martin as Valverde plummets off the podium

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Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) cemented his overall victory in the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) on Saturday after finishing second in the final individual time trial.

Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the sixth and final stage, a 25.9km loop around Markina-Xemein.

But Contador finished second, just seven seconds behind the three-time world time trial champion, with Martin’s teammate Michal Kwiatkowski third at 15 seconds.

When the final standings were tallied Contador had the overall title, 49 seconds ahead of Kwiatkowski, who moved into the runner-up spot from seventh. Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale), fifth on the day, likewise stepped up, to third overall from fifth.

“It was a tough day, complicated, but everything went to perfection,” Contador said. “It is an honor to win this race.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who began the final stage in second overall, finished more than a minute down on Martin to drop right off the podium into fifth overall.

It was Martin’s first time-trial victory of the season, and while he said the course didn’t exactly suit him, he had good legs and plenty of motivation.

“Today, the TT parcours wasn’t really 100 percent for my skills. There were two climbs. But we did it already during yesterday’s stage, so I knew the climbs already,” he said. “This morning I was really motivated. I went full gas and think I did a really good performance.”

So, too, did Kwiatkowski.

“This particular result is something really special for me.” Kwiatkowski said. “I’m really happy about this performance. I don’t think I could finish any better as Contador was really strong. I did the best I can do for this race.”