Tour de France favourite Alberto Contador was crowned Spanish national time trial champion on Friday.
Contador, who rides for the Astana team, completed the 47.8km course between Torrelavega and Cuevas de Altamira in 1:04:40.
The 2007 Tour de France champion finished 37 seconds ahead of Luis Leon Sanchez and 1:05 ahead of Ruben Plaza.
Astana, which includes seven-time yellow jersey champion Lance Armstrong, will be one of the teams to beat at the July 4-26 Tour de France which kicks off in Monaco next week.
For the Spanish champion, it is his first gold in the event as a professional rider. As a U23 rider he won the championship in 2002. Earlier this season, Contador won three other time trials (in Tour of Algarve, Paris-Nice and Tour of the Basque Country).
“I needed an extra training on my new Trek time trial bike,” Contador said. “The best way to do that is in a race. Thanks to its distance this was a good simulation of the Tour de France time trial. My preparation for the Tour is done. I cannot complain. I am ready.
“This was of course not only training; I really wanted this Spanish title,” he added. “I had to struggle until the end to beat Luis León. I am proud to be champion of Spain. I will show the Spanish colors for the first time in Monaco in the first stage of the Tour de France.”
Rock Racing‘s Francisco Mancebo, a revelation at the 2009 Tour of California, finished fourth, 1:46 behind Contador.
1. Alberto Contador (Astana) 1:04:40; 2. Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d’Epargne) 0.36; 3. Ruben Plaza (Liberty Seguros) 1:04; 4. Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) 1:46; 5. Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d’Epargne) 1:50.
© 2009 AFP & BikeRadar