ORDIZIA, Spain (AP) Former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador unleashed a late attack to win the opening stage of the Tour of Basque Country on Monday.
Contador, who won the six-day race in 2008 and 2009, was in a two-way fight with Alejandro Valverde with less than eight kilometers to go before the Spaniard surged ahead, parting the spectators lining the narrow road as he went.
”I knew today could be important because I usually don’t do well on the first stage,” Contador said. ”It was incredible to see all the people on the final climb. It made my hair stand on end. It even scared me a little.”
The Tinkoff-Saxo cyclist thumped his chest as he finished the hilly 153-kilometer (95-mile) stage starting and ending in Ordizia in just over four hours.
Valverde finished 14 seconds behind. Michal Kwiatkowski was third, 34 seconds behind, followed two seconds later by a group that included former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans.
Despite dealing his opponents a blow on the opening day, Contador said the race was still open.
”It’s not over, far from it,” he said. ”Each stage is different, that’s why it is so thrilling.”
Contador, a five-time Grand Tour winner, won the Tirreno-Adriatico last month for his first title in a multistage race in a year. He followed that by finishing second in the Volta a Catalunya last week.