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Breschel tops sprint ahead of historic Contador win

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Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank)

Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank) (Image credit: AFP)
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Scott Sunderland before the final stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España

Scott Sunderland before the final stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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CSC-Saxo Bank directeur sportif Scott Sunderland was happy his team finished second in the teams classification, in addition to Carlos Sastre's podium finish in Madrid.

CSC-Saxo Bank directeur sportif Scott Sunderland was happy his team finished second in the teams classification, in addition to Carlos Sastre's podium finish in Madrid. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) is probably the most patient autograph giver and photo poser in the peloton. One of the reasons why he was always the last one to sign in.

Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) is probably the most patient autograph giver and photo poser in the peloton. One of the reasons why he was always the last one to sign in. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) will win his third Grand Tour in three tries.

Alberto Contador (Astana) will win his third Grand Tour in three tries. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Race organiser Victor Cordero walked through the riders lined up on both sides before stage 21.

Race organiser Victor Cordero walked through the riders lined up on both sides before stage 21. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Will Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) get his second stage win today?

Will Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) get his second stage win today? (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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The Astana led bunch in the neutral zone

The Astana led bunch in the neutral zone (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Leipheimer, Vaitkus and Contador ride by

Leipheimer, Vaitkus and Contador ride by (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Erik Zabel looks for another sprint opportunity today.

Erik Zabel looks for another sprint opportunity today. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Greg Van Avermaet will want to finally secure the blue sprinter's jersey for good.

Greg Van Avermaet will want to finally secure the blue sprinter's jersey for good. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Astana had a firm grip on the race and also on the first laps in Madrid.

Astana had a firm grip on the race and also on the first laps in Madrid. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Contador in yellow followed by Leipheimer who finished second and Assan Bazayev, the champion of Kazakhstan.

Contador in yellow followed by Leipheimer who finished second and Assan Bazayev, the champion of Kazakhstan. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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David Moncoutié (Cofidis) took it easy in the final circuits and was just trying to make sure he didn't crash.

David Moncoutié (Cofidis) took it easy in the final circuits and was just trying to make sure he didn't crash. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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José Ruiz (Andalucía-Cajasur) was a tad stunned as he was helped off his bike after he crashed heavily in the final three kilometres.

José Ruiz (Andalucía-Cajasur) was a tad stunned as he was helped off his bike after he crashed heavily in the final three kilometres. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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There were a ton of Contador fans in Madrid and celebrated him.

There were a ton of Contador fans in Madrid and celebrated him. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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The specially painted bike of Contador

The specially painted bike of Contador (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Contador concentrated on the national anthem while Leipheimer and Sastre looked at the parachuters coming down with two Spanish and one US flag.

Contador concentrated on the national anthem while Leipheimer and Sastre looked at the parachuters coming down with two Spanish and one US flag. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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And then there was a final Spanish flag coming down to celebrate the Tour of Spain. The 2008 Vuelta is now officially over.

And then there was a final Spanish flag coming down to celebrate the Tour of Spain. The 2008 Vuelta is now officially over. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Olivier Kaisen (Silence-Lotto) was lying down after he managed to cross the finish line despite a 60km/h crash two kilometres from the line.

Olivier Kaisen (Silence-Lotto) was lying down after he managed to cross the finish line despite a 60km/h crash two kilometres from the line. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank) beats Alexandr Usov (AG2R) and Davide Vigano (Quick Step) to the line.

Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank) beats Alexandr Usov (AG2R) and Davide Vigano (Quick Step) to the line. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank) takes the sprint in Madrid

Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank) takes the sprint in Madrid (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Alberto Conatdor wins his third Grand Tour in just 14 months. An historic feat.

Alberto Conatdor wins his third Grand Tour in just 14 months. An historic feat. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Who is Alberto Contador aiming at?

Who is Alberto Contador aiming at? (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) has a solemn moment during the Spanish anthem.

Alberto Contador (Astana) has a solemn moment during the Spanish anthem. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux) heads off road.

Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux) heads off road. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux) haves some fun on the last day of the Vuelta a España.

Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux) haves some fun on the last day of the Vuelta a España. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Team Astana leads the race into Madrid.

Team Astana leads the race into Madrid. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) heads out of the Vuelta a España on one wheel.

Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) heads out of the Vuelta a España on one wheel. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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A Xacobeo rider enjoying a rest – on the street.

A Xacobeo rider enjoying a rest – on the street. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) enjoys the last day of the 63rd Vuelta a España.

Alberto Contador (Astana) enjoys the last day of the 63rd Vuelta a España. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Fuel up? maillot oro Alberto Contador (Astana) fills his bike with gas on the final day of the Vuelta.

Fuel up? maillot oro Alberto Contador (Astana) fills his bike with gas on the final day of the Vuelta. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Astana's Johan Bruyneel with the winner of the 63rd Vuelta a España, Alberto Contador (Astana).

Astana's Johan Bruyneel with the winner of the 63rd Vuelta a España, Alberto Contador (Astana). (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) enjoys a drink with Levi Leipheimer (Astana) and Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank), l & r.

Alberto Contador (Astana) enjoys a drink with Levi Leipheimer (Astana) and Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank), l & r. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Emanuele Bindi (Lampre) leads the three-man escape with Jesús Rosendo (Andalucía-Cajasur) and Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas), r-l.

Emanuele Bindi (Lampre) leads the three-man escape with Jesús Rosendo (Andalucía-Cajasur) and Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas), r-l. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Riders on the street of Madrid.

Riders on the street of Madrid. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank) wins the last stage of the 2008 Vuelta.

Matti Breschel (CSC-Saxo Bank) wins the last stage of the 2008 Vuelta. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Best team Caisse d'Epargne called up to the podium.

Best team Caisse d'Epargne called up to the podium. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Race Director Victor Cordero and Alberto Contador (Astana) at the end of the Vuelta.

Race Director Victor Cordero and Alberto Contador (Astana) at the end of the Vuelta. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Race Director Victor Cordero is proud of another well-organised Vuelta.

Race Director Victor Cordero is proud of another well-organised Vuelta. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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David Moncoutié (Cofidis) in the red mountains jersey.

David Moncoutié (Cofidis) in the red mountains jersey. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) also won the combination jersey.

Alberto Contador (Astana) also won the combination jersey. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) took home the blue points jersey.

Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) took home the blue points jersey. (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Race winner Alberto Contador (Astana) tops the podium with David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Levi Leipheimer (Astana), Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto).

Race winner Alberto Contador (Astana) tops the podium with David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Levi Leipheimer (Astana), Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto). (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) with Race Director Victor Cordero.

Alberto Contador (Astana) with Race Director Victor Cordero. (Image credit: Unipublic)

Dane Matti Breschel of Team CSC-Saxo Bank topped a rough sprint in Madrid to close out the 63rd Vuelta a España. Breschel finished ahead of Alexandre Usov of Team AG2R La Mondiale and Davide Viganò of Team Quick Step.

"I was extremely focused on starting the sprint at the exact right time, and I did," Breschel said. "I didn't have any doubts that I had to open up early and I managed to take advantage of the fact that no one else seemed to have the same idea."

It was the fifth win of the season for Breschel, who battled back from an early-season knee injury, and one which made up for a disappointing second place in the Vuelta's 17th stage. His form appears to be coming good just in time for next week's World Championships in Italy.

"I've worked really hard to get in the shape I'm in right now and I'm unbelievable happy to get such a fantastic result here. It's been a tough Vuelta but I feel I've come out on the other side strong and my result today confirms that I'm in great shape ahead of the World Championships next week. It's one of those victories that really matter. Now I'll do everything I can to maintain focus and use the fact that both my form and my confidence are at the very top," said Breschel.

Spaniard Alberto Contador of Team Astana finished safely in the peloton to put his name on a short list of riders who have won all three Grand Tours. Contador topped the classification after three weeks of racing by 46 seconds over teammate Levi Leipheimer and 4:12 over Carlos Sastre of Team CSC-Saxo Bank to take his third Grand Tour to win after the Tour de France in 2007 and the Giro d'Italia this May.

"In the last hour there is still a chance of a crash," said Contador. "I am very content, also for all the fans and for all of Spain. The last few days the fans were really cheering. There was some tension for me but now life is good..."

Contador joined Belgian Eddy Merckx, Italian Felice Gimondi and Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil as the only riders to ever win all three Grand Tours. The young rider from Madrid quickly accomplished the feat; 14 months from his win on the streets of Paris in 2007 to the Paseo del Prado of Madrid today.

He took the leader's maillot oro with a dominant ride in the Asturias mountain stages. The gold top became his after his win on top of the feared climb of Alto de l'Angliru and he solidified his lead with victory on the Puerto de San Isidro 24 hours later.

Contador took his win with the help a very strong Team Astana. The squad took a one-two finish in the penultimate stage, the Alto de Navacerrada time trial, with Levi Leipheimer ahead of Contador. Leipheimer also enjoyed a spell of his own in the maillot oro and the stage win in Ciudad Real.

How it unfolded

The grand city of Madrid hosted the final day of the Spanish tour. The riders left from the San Sebastián de Los Reyes Exhibition Centre to start their run into Spain's capital.

Guided by maillot oro Contador, 131 riders of the original 170 rolled out to start the 102.2-kilometre stage at 14:57. The Astana team guided Contador, the red mountain's jersey of David Moncoutié (Cofidis) and the blue points jersey of Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) away from the start village. The white combination jersey also belongs to Contador, but Leipheimer wore it though the stage as runner up in the competition.

Astana appropriately led the race into the streets of Madrid. Shortly after the race crossed the finish line for the first of eight times, the first break of the day materialised. Manuel Ortega (Andalucía-Cajasur) and Serafín Martínez (Xacobeo Galicia) darted off and stayed clear for nearly a kilometre and then where shut down by Liquigas.

Liquigas's Valerio Agnoli made it off the front with another Andalucía rider, Jesús Rosendo, and Emanuele Bindi (Lampre). Rosendo featured in stage two's escape and Agnoli featured in the wrong way in stage eight where he crashed twice. The three gained near a half-minute on the Astana- and Cofidis-led group.

The trio held its 30 seconds with 25 kilometres left to race, but the peloton seemed to be just playing with the three. The sprinters' teams always had them in their grasp.

CSC-Saxo Bank marked the chase with 15 kilometres left to race. It brought the gap down to 15 seconds and paved the way for its sprint gun, Breschel. In search of his first professional win, Rosendo felt the Danish heat and he jumped clear with Agnoli in tow. Before the start of the final six-kilometre Madrid circuit the sprinters' workers captured the two remaining escapees.

Cofidis returned to the front and Koldo Fernández's Euskaltel-Euskadi's boys led for a brief moment. CSC's Breschel was able to fend off Crédit Agricole's men and a round of crashes to give his team its first stage win in the 2008 Vuelta. He joined teammate Sastre in the final podium celebrations in Madrid.

Alexandre Usov added to his third place finish in stage 17 and Davide Viganò emerged as Quick Step's sprinter of the day. Italy's Viganò, 24, finished 10th in the Madrid sprint two years ago.

Belgium's Van Avermaet made it though the rough closing metres to finish fifth and claim the overall points classification. His teammate, Olivier Kaisen, appeared worst off of the crash that involved around five riders in the finale 3km.

Van Avermaet's blue jersey of points leader and stage nine win added to a victorious season that started with a win in the Tour of Belgium in late May. He will represent his country in next weeks World Championships and is a dark horse for the rainbow bands.

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