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País Vasco defending champion Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador expects today's País Vasco stage three will shake up the general classification....
Alberto Contador expects today's País Vasco stage three will shake up the general classification. The 2008 race winner believes the weather in Spain could make the battle harder for him and his rivals.
"If everything goes as normal, there are a series of riders capable of winning the stage and, among them, perhaps the number one favourite is Cunego. He is very strong and very fast," said Contador in a press release.
The Spaniard of team Astana finished with the favourites on stages one and two. He currently lies in 11th place behind the overall leader and winner of Paris-Nice, Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne).
Cunego and Contador fought for victory in the closing moments of the race on day one. They battled with Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne), but a chase group with Luis León Sánchez caught them.
"Antonio Colom, Joaquím Rodríguez, [Cadel] Evans and Samuel [Sánchez] are among the others that can make a difference. The Arrate [climb] will be crucial to distance those who can cause problems for you in the time trial and, in any case, you have to try to lose as little time as possible."
Today's stage is a homage to the defunct Euskal Bizikleta race. There are five mountain passes, with four coming in the final 50 kilometres. The first category Alto de Ixua tops out three kilometres from the finish line.
The six-day race ends with a 24-kilometre time trial on Saturday.