Clerc denies Valverde clean sweep

Alejandro Valverde wins in Burgos and his team gets the added boost of a new sponsor agreeing to bac

DAVIS Allan ( AUS ) 
Alejandro Valverde wins in Burgos and his team gets the added boost of a new sponsor agreeing to bac

PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Quick Step’s Aurlien Clerc denied Alejandro Valverde a clean sweep of all four stages at the Tour of Burgos when he won the bunch sprint into the regional capital this afternoon. In truth, a whole host of riders stood between Valverde and victory on the final day, as he rolled across the line celebrating overall victory and what has been a very timely boost for his Olympic hopes. There was further reason for Valverde and his Comunitat Valenciana-Kelme team-mates to celebrate as it was also confirmed today that the team will be backed by Elche football club next season. Negotiations had been ongoing for some days, and although some financial details have to be clarified essentially a deal has been done. Based in the city of Elche, near Alicante in southern Spain, the team will be known as Elche-Comunitat Valenciana. The team will continue to be managed by current boss Vicente Belda, who is expected to have the considerable security of a five-year sponsorship deal. Among the first tasks facing Belda and his new Elche backers, who are planning to develop the city as a centre for sporting excellence, will be to clear the debts still burdening the team so that they can get into the Pro Tour events next year, and to secure Valverde in the face of reported interest from Quick Step and Saeco. The 24-year-old rider from Murcia has signed a contract with the team that runs until 2007, but has intimated that he might leave in the wake of the serious financial problems that were affecting the team up into May. However, the team’s wages are now being paid in advance rather than in arrears and a buy-out clause of two million euros in Valverde’s contract may well deter any potential suitors. Stage 4, Miranda de Ebro-Burgos 1 Aurlien Clerc (Swi) Quick Step-Davitamon 173km in 3.54.16 (44.57kph) 2 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Phonak 3 Roger Hammond (GB) 4 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 5 Crescenzo d’Amore (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 6 Mauro Zinetti (Ita) Vini Caldirola 7 Jon Del Rio (Spa) Costa de Almeria 8 Maxim Rudenko (Ukr) Chocolade Jacques 9 Wesley Van der Linden (Bel) Vlaanderen 10 Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) Chocolade Jacques Overall standings 1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana-Kelme 14.59.07 2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears 0.03 3 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval 0.06 4 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.50 5 Jonathan Gonzalez (Spa) Costa de Almeria 0.53 6 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) Saunier Duval 1.14 7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears 1.40 8 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Chocolade Jacques 1.51 9 Jos Alberto Martinez (Spa) Relax-Bodysol 2.02 10 Ondrej Sosenka (Cze) Acqua e Sapone 2.06