Cycling: Valverde seals Catalonia win in style

Alejandro Valverde completed his second Tour of Catalonia win on Sunday with his third stage win of the seven-day race to top an all Spanish podium from Alberto Contador and Movistar teammate Albert Soler.

Valverde, 36, added to his victories on stage three and five on the 138.7km stagearound Barcelona with an eight-lap circuit to finish in 3hr 08min 50sec.

Colombian Jarlinson Pantano was secondahead of Frenchman Arthur Vichot in third.

Valverde extended his winning margin over Contador to 1min 03sec with Soler 1min 16sec back.

The scale of Valverde’s win is even more impressive given every Movistar rider washanded 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 penalised 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 Ifelt 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.”

Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome 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 five kilometres to go and ended up losing another 1min 04secs on the stage in finishing 48th.

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