Hard, dangerous day for Contador at Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia

Spaniard avoids crash near end of final stage

Alberto Contador had a tough day at the 179km opening stage of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia on Friday. Riders started in San Pedro del Pinatar and finished in Alhama de Murcia.

"It was a hard and dangerous day," said the Spaniard. Racers faced cold and rainy conditions.

Saxo Bank Sungard's Contador finished the first stage in 14th place, two seconds behind the winner, sprinter Michael Matthews (Rabobank).

The conditions made for treacherous conditions near the end of the stage, especially on the descent after the final climb. There was a crash in the last kilometre, but it was without consequences for Contador or his Saxo Bank-Sungard teammates.

"The stage looked like it would be easier, but it has been complicated by the rain. The last part of the stage was very dangerous, but we got through the day without falling. I don't know if there were gaps in the end, but we managed to finish ahead (in the main bunch)."

Looking ahead to stage 2 on Saturday, he said its finale "will be different, but also complicated because the stage ends after eight kilometres downhill. If we have a bad day like today, there will be more gaps on the descent than on the climb."

Contador named Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) as a rider to watch. "On a day like today you don't see too much of him, but Menchov has been the most involved in the race at all times."

The Murcia event is Contador's second race back in the peloton since the Spanish Federation cleared him of wrongdoing after he returned a positive test for Clenbuterol at last year's Tour de France.

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