SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA Spain (Reuters) - Local favorite Alberto Contador wrapped up his third Tour of Spain triumph when he comfortably held on to his overall lead in the final stage time trial in a rain-soaked Santiago de Compostela on Sunday.
Tinkoff-Saxo rider Contador, who also won the Vuelta in 2008 and 2012, effectively secured victory when he left closest rival Chris Froome trailing to win Saturday’s penultimate stage and he was careful to avoid any mishap on the slippery roads in the north-western city of Santiago.
Briton Froome of Team Sky finished second overall, one minute and 10 seconds behind Contador, and another Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, was third, one minute and 50 seconds adrift of his compatriot.
Contador took 101st place in the 9.7-km time trial on Sunday won by Italian Adriano Malori but on such a short distance, only a crash or a mechanical incident could have cost him the red jersey.
New Zealand’s Jesse Sergent was second on the day with Australian Rohan Dennis finishing third, eight and nine seconds behind.
Contador, a two-time Tour de France champion, and Froome were taking part in the Vuelta after crashing out of the Tour de France in July.
Contador initially ruled out participating in his home race but recovered more quickly than expected from a fractured shin.
“It’s a dream for me to win three Vueltas,” a breathless Contador told Cadena Ser radio moments after crossing the finish line. “I really was not expecting it,” added the 31-year-old.
”These past two months I have had a lot of ups and downs and the support of the fans has been crucial.
“I am extremely pleased and just want to thank the team as without them this win would have been impossible.”
German John Degenkolb, who won four stages in the Vuelta, secured the green jersey for the points classification while Spain’s Luis Leon Sanchez won the polka dot jersey for the mountain classification.
Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Martyn Herman