Valverde adds Basque Country title to superb start to season

EIBAR, Spain (AP) Alejandro Valverde won the Tour of Basque Country after holding off defending champion Alberto Contador in the decisive time trial on Saturday.

Valverde won the six-day race in northern Spain by 17 seconds from Contador, the two-time Tour de France winner.

The win came just two weeks after the 36-year-old Valverde beat Contador and reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome to claim the Tour of Catalonia.

''There can be no doubt about it, this is the best start to a season of my career,'' Valverde said. ''With everything that I have won I will head into the classics incredibly calm. If I win one, then I won't have to race the rest of the year!''

Primoz Roglic won the final stage, a 27-kilometer (17-mile) time trial starting and finishing in Eibar, in 36 minutes. It was the Slovenian's second stage win this week. Valverde was the next fastest at nine seconds behind, followed by Ion Izagirre and Contador.

Valverde, a Movistar rider, took the lead on the mountainous fifth stage on Friday.

Valverde also won the five-day Tour of Andalusia and single-day Tour of Murcia, also in Spain, this season.

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