By Shane Stokes in Madrid
ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde’s excellent second place in the Vuelta a Espana makes it virtually certain that he will win the 2006 ProTour classification. The Spanish rider is now on 285 points, almost double that of second-placed Cadel Evans. Andrey Kashechkin’s stage win and high Vuelta finish means that he moves up 12 places to third, holding 156 points, while Alessandro Ballan drops a place to fourth, one point further back. World champion Tom Boonen is just behind him in fifth, while Frank Schleck rounds out the top six.
Fellow CSC rider Ivan Basso is seventh, although he will lose his place in the standings if he is proven guilty under the Operación Puerto investigation.