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Rodriguez closes the gap on Contador in UCI rankings

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Astana) still leads the UCI World Rankings that were issued today but fellow Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has closed the gap to 54 points after finishing fifth in Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian.

Contador scored 220 points at the Tour de France and jumped to the top of the ranking with a total of 482 points. However he is unlikely to ride other major race this season and so is not expected to score more points. Rodriguez scored 30 points for his fifth place at the Clasica San Sebastian and now has 428 points, making him the biggest favourite to top the rankings at the end of the season. Rodriguez has won stage five of the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and stage 12 of the Tour de France. He is likely to score more points in the second half of the season and at the Vuelta Espana.

Cadel Evans (BMC) is third in the individual ranking with 390 point, Clasica San Sebastian winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) moved up from fifth to fourth and now has a total of 363 points, with Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) fifth with 304 points.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) was the only big mover in the individual ranking, moving up from tenth to sixth with 283 points thanks to this second place behind Sanchez.

Team rankings vital for 2011 race invitations

Vinokourov's Astana team continues to dominate the team ranking and now has a total of 944 point. Saxo Bank is second with 790 points and Katusha is third with 739 points.

With the 2010 team rankings important for securing invitations to the three Grand Tours and major one-day classics on the Historic calendar in 2011, points scored in the final races of the season could be vital.

Under a new agreement between the UCI and the big-three race organisers ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic, 17 teams will automatically be invited to races next year. Team Sky is currently in 17th place but with the future of several other teams is in doubt, their place in the top echelon of the sport seems secure. Below them, Ag2r-La Mondiale, Cofidis, BBox Bouygues Telecom, Vacansoleil and Francaise des Jeux are fighting for the final places.

Thanks to the success of Contador, Rodriguez and Sanchez, Spain still leads the UCI World Ranking for nations.

Spain has a total of 1644 points, almost double the total of Italy in second, that has 856 points. Belgium is third with 849 points, Australia is fourth with 725 points and the USA is fifth 568 points.

The next update of the World Ranking will be published after this week's Tour of Poland.

Elite Men UCI World Rankings
1Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana482pts
2Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha428
3Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team390
4Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne363
5Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto304
6Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana283
7Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank258
8Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank250
9Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi239
10Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank239
11Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions217
12Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack216
13Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step216
14Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank213
15Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo206
16Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli203
17Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo188
18Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team Radioshack174
19Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto169
20Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini163

2Team Saxo Bank790
3Team Katusha739
5Omega Pharma-Lotto621
7HTC - Columbia595
8Caisse d'Epargne586
9Team RadioShack562
10Bmc Racing Team553
11Cervelo Test Team464
12Euskaltel - Euskadi425
13Lampre-Farnese Vini420
14Garmin - Transitions415
15Quick Step309
16Androni Giocattoli243
17Team Sky231
18Ag2R La Mondiale192
20Bbox Bouygues Telecom147
21Acqua & Sapone134
22Colnago - Csf Inox119
24Team Milram106
25Française Des Jeux88

5United States568
14Great Britain255
16Czech Republic188
18New Zealand139

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.