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Contador time trials away from his greatest rivals

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Alberto Contador (Astana) again rode strongly

Alberto Contador (Astana) again rode strongly
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze)
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Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) continues

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) continues
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze)
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Stage podium (L-R): Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto), Alberto Contador

Stage podium (L-R): Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto), Alberto Contador
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze)
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Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Rabobank) finished 42nd on the time trial.

Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Rabobank) finished 42nd on the time trial.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Dutch rider Robert Gesink (Rabobank) was fifth on the time trial finale.

Dutch rider Robert Gesink (Rabobank) was fifth on the time trial finale.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Frenchman Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) took ninth spot.

Frenchman Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) took ninth spot.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) could only manage 15th spot.

Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) could only manage 15th spot.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Italian Marco Pinotti (Team High Road) sneaked in to the top 10.

Italian Marco Pinotti (Team High Road) sneaked in to the top 10.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) again rode strongly to claim another stage, and the overall victory.

Alberto Contador (Astana) again rode strongly to claim another stage, and the overall victory.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Belgian Maxime Monfort (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) managed sixth place for his French squad.

Belgian Maxime Monfort (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) managed sixth place for his French squad.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Fans willed on Frank Schleck (Team CSC) as he rode to 17th spot.

Fans willed on Frank Schleck (Team CSC) as he rode to 17th spot.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Euskaltel - Euskadi) finished just outside the top 10 in 11th spot.

Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Euskaltel - Euskadi) finished just outside the top 10 in 11th spot.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Ruben Lobato Elvira (Saunier Duval - Scott) dropped nearly four minutes on the final stage.

Ruben Lobato Elvira (Saunier Duval - Scott) dropped nearly four minutes on the final stage.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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David De La Fuente Rasilla (Saunier Duval - Scott) dropped time on the time trial, but still claimed a top 25 position overall.

David De La Fuente Rasilla (Saunier Duval - Scott) dropped time on the time trial, but still claimed a top 25 position overall.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre) claimed an impressive fourth position.

Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre) claimed an impressive fourth position.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) continues his preparation towards the Tour de France.

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) continues his preparation towards the Tour de France.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Dutch Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) took third spot just 27 seconds behind the winner.

Dutch Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) took third spot just 27 seconds behind the winner.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval - Scott) was 30th on the day, but finished 19th overall.

José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval - Scott) was 30th on the day, but finished 19th overall.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Kim Kirchen (Team High Road) took 12th spot.

Kim Kirchen (Team High Road) took 12th spot.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Stage podium (L-R): Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Thomas Dekker (Rabobank).

Stage podium (L-R): Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Thomas Dekker (Rabobank).
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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The top three from the final stage blow the lids on some bubbly as the Spanish race comes to an end.

The top three from the final stage blow the lids on some bubbly as the Spanish race comes to an end.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana) finished the week the way he started it - on the podium.

Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana) finished the week the way he started it - on the podium.
(Image credit: Susanne Goetze / cyclinginside.com)
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Euskaltel - Euskadi's Jorge Azanza Soto and Inaki Isasi Flores ready for the time trial.

Euskaltel - Euskadi's Jorge Azanza Soto and Inaki Isasi Flores ready for the time trial.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Daniel Navarro Garcia (Astana) warms up for the time trial.

Daniel Navarro Garcia (Astana) warms up for the time trial.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel - Euskadi) finished 60th in the time trial.

Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel - Euskadi) finished 60th in the time trial.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi) prepares for the final stage.

Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi) prepares for the final stage.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Dutch rider Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) was relaxed ahead of the last stage.

Dutch rider Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) was relaxed ahead of the last stage.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Ruben Lobato Elvira (Saunier Duval - Scott) was glad the previous day's rain had cleared for the time trial.

Ruben Lobato Elvira (Saunier Duval - Scott) was glad the previous day's rain had cleared for the time trial.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) with his former sport director Oscar Guerrero.

Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) with his former sport director Oscar Guerrero.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi) finished 39th.

Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi) finished 39th.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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David Arroyo Duran (Caisse d'Epargne) finished the event in 40th spot.

David Arroyo Duran (Caisse d'Epargne) finished the event in 40th spot.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Portugal's Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Astana) managed 28th on the time trial.

Portugal's Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Astana) managed 28th on the time trial.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Russian Eduard Vorganov (Karpin Galicia) put down the 50th fastest time.

Russian Eduard Vorganov (Karpin Galicia) put down the 50th fastest time.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Some Caisse d'Epargne fans out to support the riders.

Some Caisse d'Epargne fans out to support the riders.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step) dropped nearly four minutes.

Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step) dropped nearly four minutes.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) took 15th in the final stage.

Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) took 15th in the final stage.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Belgian Maxime Monfort (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) was sixth in the time trial.

Belgian Maxime Monfort (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) was sixth in the time trial.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Euskaltel - Euskadi) claimed 11th in the time trial.

Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Euskaltel - Euskadi) claimed 11th in the time trial.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) took another victory over Australian Cadel Evans.

Alberto Contador (Astana) took another victory over Australian Cadel Evans.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)
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Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana) feels at home with the media, having had lots of practice since his 2007 Tour de France win.

Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana) feels at home with the media, having had lots of practice since his 2007 Tour de France win.
(Image credit: Monika Prell/Cyclingnews.com)

Spaniard also wins overall

Spaniard Alberto Contador continued his dominating performance in the Vuelta al País Vasco and won the final stage, an individual time trial over 20 kilometres with start and finish in Orio. The 25 year-old Astana rider was 22 seconds faster than the Australian Cadel Evans, from Silence-Lotto, which secured the overall victory for the stage winner. Rabobank's Thomas Dekker was third, 27 seconds back . The top three was also the order in the final overall classification.

Euskaltel – Euskadi's Egoi Martínez held on to the mountains classification, while Iban Mayoz from Karpin Galicia secured himself the jersey in the meta volantes. While Astana had the stranglehold on the stages and the GC, it was the Dutch Rabobank team that won the teams prize.

Race winner Contador was ecstatic in the press conference. "The win of this Vuelta al País Vasco has a prestigious value for me. The victory has not been easy, neither for the profiles nor for the climatic conditions." He was surprised about the gap between him and Evans. "I beat him for 22 seconds? That is really surprising to me!" He dedicated the victory to his grandmother, who deceased some time ago, a fact that "affected me a lot," and also to his grandfather Avellardo. He admitted to struggle with a molar infection, a fact that "only Benjamín Noval knew. I did almost not sleep in those days, but I did not want to say it as the rivals could have heard about it and tried to attack me even more."

Rabobank's Grischa Niermann was happy about the win of this team: "The Vuelta al País Vasco is one of the hardest races, it is great that we have been able to win the teams classification. The race has not been that hard, like in the past years, but yesterday and today were really two hard stages and you can say that they were worthy of the Vuelta al País Vasco." The German commented about the Alto de Aia that "yesterday, some of us would not have been able to reach the summit without the help of the spectators, because the wheels raced due to the bad weather."

How it unfolded

The weather was kinder to the public and to the riders than the previous day. Along the coast of the Basque country, the sun was out and the temperatures were around 20 degrees Celsius – perfect conditions for this last day of the Vuelta al País Vasco. A lot of cycling fans had come to Orio to support their heroes.

The course started near the beach, before crossing the little village of Orio (Gipuzkoa), direction to the port, along the luxurious yachts. It then left the village and affronted the Alto de Aia, with a maximal gradient of 22 percent. After four kilometres of climbing, a turning point and a descent of five kilometres over very narrow and curvy streets awaited the riders. The peloton descended with a speed of 85 kilometres per hour. Back in Orio, they passed the port once again before ascending to the Alto de Txanka. From the summit, they only had to descend again and the finish line awaited them besides the sea.

The vibes were great, the majority of the public was assembled at the start and finish zone and in the rampant streets of the Alto de Aia, where groups of people animated the riders calling each of them by name. In front of the Astana bus, Contador fans began to intone chants to support their idol.

Six riders did not start; amongst them stage three winner David Herrero from Karpin Galicia who crashed yesterday. The first of the remaining 99 riders, Liquigas' Iván Santaromita, started at 14:45, the last one, Alberto Contador, at 17:15.

The race leader did not let any doubt about his class: After four kilometres, he led the stage with 21 seconds ahead of his biggest rival, Cadel Evans, and he defended this advance until reaching the finish line.

Astana did a great work for their leader during the entire Vuelta, and he knew to thank it to them winning the overall classification.

The most regular rider should have been David Herrero, who was three times third in the stages and who also won the one that finished in Viana. His team, Karpin Galicia, has showed a very great performance, with Ezequiel Mosquera finishing ninth in the overall classification, and as the only non-ProTour team, they left a good impression.

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