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COLLADA DE LA GALLINA, Andorra (VN) — Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) slipped past Albert Contador at the line on Saturday to win stage 8 of the Vuelta a España.
The Movistar rider roared up from behind on the final climb in the 174.7km stage to pip his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank rival for the victory, followed by race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in second.
Sky’s Chris Froome faded in the finale to finish fourth, 14 seconds behind the other contenders for the overall.
“I launched the first attack on the final climb and I almost paid for that effort,” said Valverde, who said he stayed locked to Rodriguez’s wheel. “I was fully aware that he knew this climb by heart.”
The race leader gave a nod to his rival, saying he was content with second place on the day.
“I wanted to win but hats off to Alejandro for his final sprint. I’m not disappointed,” he said.
Froome credited his team for delivering him to the final climb in good position, but added that he “just didn’t have the legs” in the end. Nevertheless he took heart from seeing a chink in Cotador’s armor.
“Contador has showed today that he’s not invincible. It keeps the race very exciting with the four of us still together,” Froome said.
As for Contador, he said he had hoped to win but pronounced himself happy with the outcome.
“It was important for me to create a difference over Froome,” he said. “I’ve missed a bit of strength in the final meters but I’m getting better and better, even though I wasn’t on a fantastic day today. It was the first taste of the high mountains and at the end of the day, I’m better than Froome. Regarding Purito’and Valverde, we’ll judge in Madrid.”
The day was marked by a six-man breakaway comprising Amael Moinard (BMC), Michael Buffaz (Cofidis), Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Javier Ramirez Abeja (Andalucia) and Matijn Keizer.
At the foot of the final climb Meyer made a bid for glory only to be reeled in by the chasing favorites.
Rodriguez continues to lead the Vuelta by 33 seconds over Chris Froome (Sky) and 40 over Contador.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from the Vuelta a España.