Alberto Contador wraps up Castilla y Leon victory

Astana's Alberto Contador kept his pre-Tour de France preparations on track by winning the Tour of Castilla y Leon for the third time in his career Sunday.

Contador celebrates
Contador celebrates

Alberto Contador (Astana) coasted in with the main group Sunday to secure overall victory at the five-day Vuelta a Castilla y León in northern Spain.

Contador crossed the line 21st to wrap up a solid week in Spain and earn his third stage-race victory in four events so far in 2010. Contador won Saturday’s individual time trial to take a 41-second lead to second-place finisher Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi). Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo-Galicia) finished third overall at 1:20 back.

“I am happy to win this race again because it’s a very special race for me and it’s perfect for my preparation for larger goals in the season,” Contador said. “This was one of the first races I did as a pro and I finished fourth behind some very important riders.”

Astana did what it had to do to control an eight-man breakaway which tore clear early in the hilly stage from Samos to Santiago de Compostela.

Sergio Ribeiro (Barbot-Siper) won the bunch sprint to close the 25th edition of the race.

With victory, Contador becomes the first rider to win three editions. He also won in 2007 and 2008, finishing second to ex-teammate Levi Leipheimer in 2009.

“The theme of records isn’t that important to me, but it means that I have won a race that is something special for me,” he said. “The most important thing is that I felt good in the mountains and the time trial, and that the team is working well together.”

It was also a solid week for Ted King (Cervélo TestTeam), who led out teammate Theo Bos to sprint victories in the opening two stages and then helped tow teammate Stefan Denifl to the base of Friday’s climb up the Morredero.

“Pretty early into the stage it was obvious that today would come down to a sprint as the break never had more than three minutes and change,” King told VeloNews. “With a pretty stiff uphill to the line from 3km out, we decided to work for Stefan Denifl since he has a good kick uphill and it would surprise some teams to hit out with him instead of Theo.

“The final bit of the breakaway was finally reeled in within the final kilometer. I escorted Stefan around the front of the bunch from 40km out to within that final K. Stefan had a great jump around 500 meters, but it was a little too strong and too early and he ended up seventh or so. Still, a strong race for the team.”