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Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Sunday, 20 September 2009 17:16 UK

Valverde wins Tour of Spain crown

Alejandro Valverde
Valverde went one better than his 2008 second place in the Vuelta

Alejandro Valverde sealed overall victory in the Tour of Spain by safely finishing Sunday's final stage.

The 29-year-old Spaniard crossed the finish line in the main pack to take his first win in one of cycling's three biggest tours.

Germany's Andre Greipel won the 21st stage in a sprint in Madrid after the 110km leg from Rivas Vaciamadrid.

Spain's Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez was second, with Australian Cadel Evans third overall.

"I was missing a big win and now this year I've done it, it's incredible," said Valverde.

"I've proved to myself I can win a three-week event and I don't think any race, a Giro d'Italia or a Tour de France, can be much more difficult than this Vuelta.

"If I've won here I think I can definitely be in contention for a Tour."

His Vuelta triumph will provide some consolation for Valverde, who is serving a two-year doping ban in Italy.

That prevented him from taking part in both the 2009 Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France which passed through Italy.

Valverde has repeatedly claimed he is innocent and has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"I had to find another goal, in this case the Vuelta. I had to concentrate and leave all other problems behind," he said.

He did not win a single stage in Spain but remained strong throughout, helped by his Caisse D'Epargne team, and was able to respond to attacks by his rivals when needed, especially in the 14th and 19th stages.

Valverde has also won three other prestigious titles this year - the Dauphine Libere, the Tour of Catalonia and the Tour of Burgos.

Final general classification:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne, 87 hrs, 22 mins, 37 secs.

2. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 55 secs

3. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto, at 1:32

4. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas, at 2:12

5. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia, at 4:27

6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank, at 6:40

7. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne, at 9:08

8. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre, at 9:11

9. Philip Deignan, (Ire) Cervelo Test Team, at 11:08

10. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Fuji-Servetto, at 11:27

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see also
Millar wins Tour of Spain stage
19 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Deignan wins Tour of Spain stage
17 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Valverde to miss Tour de France
23 Jun 09 |  Cycling
Valverde may miss Tour after ban
11 May 09 |  Cycling
Valverde put under investigation
19 Feb 09 |  Cycling

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