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Valverde all set for Olympics

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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will travel to Beijing full of confidence

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will travel to Beijing full of confidence (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The Spanish team gets ready for Beijing

The Spanish team gets ready for Beijing (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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The podium

The podium (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) leads team-mate Paolo Bettini early in the race.

Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) leads team-mate Paolo Bettini early in the race. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) leads the five-man selection after the Alto De Arkal.

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) leads the five-man selection after the Alto De Arkal. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) takes the sprint ahead of Kolobnev and Rebellin.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) takes the sprint ahead of Kolobnev and Rebellin. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The podium with Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC Saxo Bank, 2nd), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne, 1st) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner, 3rd).

The podium with Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC Saxo Bank, 2nd), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne, 1st) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner, 3rd). (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) was satisfied with his third place.

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) was satisfied with his third place. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Europe ProTour leader Damiano Cunego is back in action after his Tour crash (his chin still spots a souvenir)

Europe ProTour leader Damiano Cunego is back in action after his Tour crash (his chin still spots a souvenir) (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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World Champ Paolo Bettini uses San Sebastián to test his Olympic fitness.

World Champ Paolo Bettini uses San Sebastián to test his Olympic fitness. (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Alberto Contador is so happy to be back racing.

Alberto Contador is so happy to be back racing. (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Carlos Sastre also will check his pre-Olympic form.

Carlos Sastre also will check his pre-Olympic form. (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Contador gets ready to race

Contador gets ready to race (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Sastre would love to win in Spain.

Sastre would love to win in Spain. (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Sastre greets the fans.

Sastre greets the fans. (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Bettini and Davide Rebellin share a pre-race smile but will want to take out the win for their respective teams.

Bettini and Davide Rebellin share a pre-race smile but will want to take out the win for their respective teams. (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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The Spanish team gets ready for Beijing with Carlos Sastre (Team CSC), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). Missing is Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who is not racing due to illness.

The Spanish team gets ready for Beijing with Carlos Sastre (Team CSC), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). Missing is Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who is not racing due to illness. (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Valverde and Kolobnev go head-to-head in the final sprint.

Valverde and Kolobnev go head-to-head in the final sprint. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Valverde knows he has the race won.

Valverde knows he has the race won. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The Spaniard celebrates a morale boosting victory.

The Spaniard celebrates a morale boosting victory. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will travel to Beijing full of confidence and with a strong Spanish team to support him.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will travel to Beijing full of confidence and with a strong Spanish team to support him. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) rolls in 12th after working hard for Valverde.

Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) rolls in 12th after working hard for Valverde. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) finished 15th, 1'13 down on Valverde.

David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) finished 15th, 1'13 down on Valverde. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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David De La Fuente (Scott-American Beef) comes in 16th.

David De La Fuente (Scott-American Beef) comes in 16th. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Russian Vladimir Karpets was part of a super strong Caisse d'Epargne team.

Russian Vladimir Karpets was part of a super strong Caisse d'Epargne team. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Alejandro Valverde added another big one-day race to his palmares.

Alejandro Valverde added another big one-day race to his palmares. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Valverde was awarded the typical Basque headwear for the podium ceremony.

Valverde was awarded the typical Basque headwear for the podium ceremony. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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No matter how many races you win, this part is never a chore...

No matter how many races you win, this part is never a chore... (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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And neither is this.

And neither is this. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) was delighted to make the podium.

Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) was delighted to make the podium. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has been here before, winning the race in 1997 and coming third in 2004.

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has been here before, winning the race in 1997 and coming third in 2004. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Rebellin accepts a rather unusual trophy.

Rebellin accepts a rather unusual trophy. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The podium (l-r): Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner).

The podium (l-r): Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner). (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) is the new ProTour leader.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) is the new ProTour leader. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Davide Rebellin is still getting to grips with this champagne lark.

Davide Rebellin is still getting to grips with this champagne lark. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The podium girls somehow managed to avoid getting soaked.

The podium girls somehow managed to avoid getting soaked. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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But the riders certainly don't...

But the riders certainly don't... (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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David De La Fuente (Scott-American Beef) crossed four of the six climbs in first place to secure the mountains competition.

David De La Fuente (Scott-American Beef) crossed four of the six climbs in first place to secure the mountains competition. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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De La Fuente sports the team's new jersey after previous title sponsor Saunier Duval withdrew following the Tour de France.

De La Fuente sports the team's new jersey after previous title sponsor Saunier Duval withdrew following the Tour de France. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Gorazd Stangelj (Liquigas) took the sprints competition.

Gorazd Stangelj (Liquigas) took the sprints competition. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel Euskadi) was the best placed Basque rider.

Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel Euskadi) was the best placed Basque rider. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) returns to racing after the Tour de France.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) returns to racing after the Tour de France. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Denis Menchov (Rabobank)

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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World Champ Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) led by team-mates.

World Champ Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) led by team-mates. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) has a go.

Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) has a go. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton climbs the Alto de Jaizkibel.

The peloton climbs the Alto de Jaizkibel. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) on the Alto de Jaizkibel.

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) on the Alto de Jaizkibel. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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View from Alto de Jaizkibel.

View from Alto de Jaizkibel. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Quick Step rides

Quick Step rides (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) on his own.

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) on his own. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Italy's Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)

Italy's Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) checks out Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner).

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) checks out Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bettini looks to Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner).

Bettini looks to Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Italy's Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) determined.

Italy's Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) determined. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bettini leads Rebellin

Bettini leads Rebellin (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Luxembourg's Andy Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank)

Luxembourg's Andy Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) finishes

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) finishes (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) congratulated

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) congratulated (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Team Saunier Duval on stage

Team Saunier Duval on stage (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) looking rough after his Tour de France crash.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) looking rough after his Tour de France crash. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The view at the back.

The view at the back. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A Saunier Duval rider has a go.

A Saunier Duval rider has a go. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The group along the shores.

The group along the shores. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton rides early in the race.

The peloton rides early in the race. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom)

Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) descends

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) descends (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Flying downhill

Flying downhill (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana)

Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Giro d'Italia champion Alberto Contador (Astana)

Giro d'Italia champion Alberto Contador (Astana) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) leads Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

Alberto Contador (Astana) leads Damiano Cunego (Lampre) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) readies for the Olympics.

Alberto Contador (Astana) readies for the Olympics. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton thins out.

The peloton thins out. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)

World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) rides along.

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) rides along. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The new Saunier Duval-American Beef kit

The new Saunier Duval-American Beef kit (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) talks with Paolo Bettini (Quick Step).

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) talks with Paolo Bettini (Quick Step). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) used Clásica San Sebastián as an Olympic warm-up event.

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) used Clásica San Sebastián as an Olympic warm-up event. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Four of the Olympic Spanish team members: Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) (l-r).

Four of the Olympic Spanish team members: Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) (l-r). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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New Saunier Duval-American beef team car.

New Saunier Duval-American beef team car. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Saunier Duval in action

Saunier Duval in action (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana)

Alberto Contador (Astana) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana)

Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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On the Alto de Jaizkibel

On the Alto de Jaizkibel (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Quick Step leads on the Alto de Jaizkibel for Paolo Bettini (Quick Step).

Quick Step leads on the Alto de Jaizkibel for Paolo Bettini (Quick Step). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riders climb the Alto de Jaizkibel

Riders climb the Alto de Jaizkibel (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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José Luis Arrieta (AG2R La Mondiale) heads up Alto de Jaizkibel.

José Luis Arrieta (AG2R La Mondiale) heads up Alto de Jaizkibel. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) holds off his rivals

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) holds off his rivals (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) charges to the line

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) charges to the line (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins the Clásica San Sebastián.

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins the Clásica San Sebastián. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) over Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank).

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) over Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins in his home country.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins in his home country. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins.

Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Podium time for Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

Podium time for Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) dons the txapela.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) dons the txapela. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Kisses for Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

Kisses for Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) flanked by podium girls.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) flanked by podium girls. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) awarded for a hard day.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) awarded for a hard day. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The final touch: Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) adjusts his txapela.

The final touch: Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) adjusts his txapela. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Second: Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank)

Second: Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Third: Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)

Third: Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) tops the podium with Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (l & r)

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) tops the podium with Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (l & r) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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New ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

New ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) awarded as ProTour leader

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) awarded as ProTour leader (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) in the ProTour top

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) in the ProTour top (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bubbly time for Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

Bubbly time for Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spanish Champion Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) at the finish.

Spanish Champion Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) at the finish. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) congratulated.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) congratulated. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) tops the podium with Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (l & r)

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) tops the podium with Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (l & r) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) on top with Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (l & r)

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) on top with Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (l & r) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Winner of Clásica San Sebastián, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), with second Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) and third Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (l & r)

Winner of Clásica San Sebastián, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), with second Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC-Saxo Bank) and third Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) (l & r) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

28th Clásica San Sebastián - ProT

Spain, August 2, 2008

ProTour standings

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) has won the 28th Clásica San Sebastián with a furious sprint down the Donostia Boulevard to easily hold off Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC-Saxo Bank) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) in an 11-rider sprint. Rebellin tried several times to escape in the finale, but the winner of 1997 could not shake Valverde, and neither could world champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) who made an impressive move over the final climb of Alto De Arkal but eventually finished fourth.

Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne team had the numbers in its favour with Joaquin Rodriguez and Vladimir Karpets pulling hard for their captain in the finale. Valverde will now travel to the Olympic Games with renewed confidence after his hopes of challenging for Tour de France victory went up in smoke.

During a brief interview at the finish line a fresh looking Valverde said he was relieved to have won Spain's biggest one-day classic. "It was very important for me. Last year I finished third and now I really wanted to win."

Things didn't look so good early on when the Spaniard was separated from his team-mates, but half the Caisse d'Epargne team dropped back to pace Valverde up to the lead group. "I felt guilty when I wasn't featuring in the big group despite having six team-mates there," he said.

The changed course with its new final climb of Alto De Arkal impressed Valverde, and his attack there together with Bettini, Rebellin, Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and David Moncoutié (Cofidis) was the decisive one. "It's a tougher finale now with the new climb. I thought we were gone with the five of us but eventually it came down to a sprint. I knew it would be hard against Bettini and Sanchez but I managed to win it."

Despite seeing his man come up short, Gerolsteiner's directeur sportif Reimund Dietzen was full of praise for Rebellin. "That was a super performance from Davide, who really raced exceptionally. Davide tried consistently to get away, but he was closely watched. When the rivals attacked, Davide went with them. That was awesome."

Rebellin himself was happy with the result. "I have seen that my form for the coming events is good," the Gerolsteiner captain said.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) lost his ProTour lead after finishing almost ten minutes down. The Italian abandoned the Tour de France after a heavy crash and was still feeling the effects today. "I had headaches," said Cunego, who promptly withdrew from the Italian Olympic team after the race.

David De La Fuente (Scott-American Beef) did what he does best and collected an impressive 31 points over the six climbs, taking out the mountains classification for the day. He won the first four climbs, the Orio, the Garate, the Azkarate and the Udana. Many of those who had gathered points in the early part of the race didn't actually finish. However, De La Fuente fought on to 16th place, 1'33 down on the winner.

After only 70 kilometres a group of 46 riders broke away. What was left of the peloton was soon discouraged and abandoned in its entirety! The next selection came on the category one Alto de Jaizkibel where Kolobnev was the first to attack. Others followed and the jumping took its toll until a decimated group of less than 30 approached the final climb of the day, the Alto De Arkal.

Bettini made an impressive jump near the top while several favourites, including Alberto Contador, were dropped and a group of 12 formed. On the descent Bettini tried once more and he was joined by Rebellin, Sánchez, Moncoutié and Valverde, but the quintet was brought back on the flat run-in to San Sebastián.

Several quick attacks followed, often involving Rebellin. First the Italian joined Moncoutié, then went again with Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto). But Caisse d'Epargne had the numbers and quickly reeled in the attackers. A group of 11 (Caisse's Joaquin Rodriguez had dropped back after pulling hard for Valverde) arrived at the sprint together and Valverde was clearly the strongest.

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