Basque Country 2: Kim Kirchen takes stage win

Contador maintains three second lead

Spain's Alberto Contador, riding for the Astana team, retained the overall lead of the Tour of the Basque Country after Luxemburger Kim Kirchen led the peloton home in the second stage on Tuesday.

High Road rider Kirchen completed the 153km run from Legazpia to Erandio in 3hr 40min 42sec, finishing ahead of Italy's world champion Paolo Bettini and Spaniard David Herrero. Contador finished the stage in the main peloton and remains three seconds up on compatriot Ezequiel Mosquera of the Karpin-Galicia team in the overall standings, with Mosquera's team-mate Herrero a further five seconds adrift.

Four riders - Jose Luis Arrieta, Joan Horrach, Michael Albasini and Inigo Landaluze - led an early breakaway but the foursome were reeled in by the chasing group in the final kilometres.

Contador said he was very pleased with his day's racing. "It might have come across as boring on the television but the rain showers that fell during the final kilometres made the stage dangerous," said the reigning Tour de France champion.

"Everyone was going very fast to earn precious seconds and luckily I did not fall," added Contador, whose team have been barred from this year's Grande Boucle as a result of doping scandals over the past two years.

Today's third stage see the riders tackle a 195km run from Erandio to Viana.

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