Spaniard Alberto Contador won the Tour of the Basque Country for the third time on Saturday as Germany’s Tony Martin claimed his second stage win of the race in the individual time trial.
A two-time winner of the Tour de France, 31-year-old Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) had led the race from the first day and finished in style as he ended the 25.9km time trial around Markina-Xemein in second place just seven seconds behind Martin, a triple time-trial world champion.
“At the start of the tour I couldn’t have imagined finishing the race so strongly. I have to thank the effort of my teammates,” said Contador.
“In the time-trial it was difficult, the first indications I saw showed I was going well and that gave me confidence.
“I even thought about going for the stage win but when you have a champion in front of you like Tony Martin, second place feels like a victory.”
Victory continued Contador’s fine start to the season following his success in the Tirreno-Adriatico last month as he prepares for another shot at winning the Tour de France.
However, he insisted he has other targets before the Tour kicks off in Leeds, England on July 5.
“I want to have a complete season and not just the Tour de France. For the moment everything is going well. Now I have to rest and face new challenges.”
Martin’s Omega Pharma Quick-Step teammate Michal Kwiatowski finished third for the fifth time in the six stage race and his consistency was rewarded as he moved up to second in the overall standings, 49 seconds behind Contador.
Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) also moved onto the podium with the fifth fastest time of the day as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished over a minute behind Martin to drop to fifth overall.
Cadel Evan started the day in fourth overall but dropped to seventh, the Australian almost two minutes behind Contador.