Cycle//Vuelta a España
by Marcus Leach
Home favourite Alberto Contador won his third Vuelta a España title on Sunday, despite losing almost half a minute to closest rival Chris Froome on the final stage time trial.
Contador, who has previously won the Vuelta in 2008 and 2012, knew that going into the race's final stage he only had to limit his loses in order to secure the title. In wet conditions he managed to turn in a solid performance and claim his third title, made even more impressive given the injury he suffered at this year's Tour de France.
It was an amazing recovery not only by Contador, who broke his leg less than two months ago in a crash that forced him out of the Tour de France, but also by Froome, who broke his hand and wrist in a crash that ended his Tour defence.
Froome eventually finished one minute and ten seconds behind his rival, having given his all on the mountain stages in a bid to break the Spaniard's resistance, only to see his efforts fall short this time.
"It's a dream for me to win three Vueltas," said Contador. "I really was not expecting it. 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."
Froome, far from being downcast having failed to conquer Spain's Grad Tour, was also in an upbeat mood after the race had finished.
"I think given how I've come into this race, I couldn't be happier with this result," he said. "I didn't know if I was coming here to fight for top 10, to fight for the podium or to fight for the win, so this is really going to give me a lot of motivation going forward.
"I think we can take away a lot from this race."
The final stage was won by Movistar's Adriano Malori, who clocked clocked 11 minutes and 12 seconds around the 9.7km course to beat New Zealand's Sergent by eight seconds, with Australian Dennis a further second back.
1. Alberto Contador 81 hours 25 minutes 05 seconds
2. Chris Froome +1:10
3. Alejandro Valverde +1:50
4. Joaquim Rodriguez +3:25
5. Fabio Aru +4:48
6. Samuel Sanchez +9:30
7. Daniel Martin +10:38
8. Warren Barguil +11:50
9. Damiano Caruso +12:50
10. Daniel Navarro +13:02