Slumping Contador sends signal with Tirreno victory

After not winning a multi-stage race last year, Alberto Contador has returned to form in 2014.
Fabio Ferrari/Lapresse/AP

SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy (AP) -- Alberto Contador won the weeklong Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race Tuesday to signal a return to form after going all of last year without a victory in multi-stage races.

The five-time Grand Tour winner finished 2 minutes, 5 seconds ahead of Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana in the overall standings. Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Roman Kreuziger placed third, 2:14 behind.

Adriano Malori, an Italian with Movistar, won the concluding nine-kilometer (5.7-mile) time trial in 10:13.

Contador won mountain stages on Saturday and Sunday in dominating fashion. His last major win was the 2012 Spanish Vuelta.

''This race meant a lot to me,'' said Contador, who opened the season by finishing second overall to Michal Kwiatkowski in the Tour of Algarve last month.

Contador won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, and then had his 2010 title stripped for doping. He's planning to challenge defending champion Chris Froome in this year's Tour.

''Right now I'm thinking about next week and the Tour of Catalonia,'' Contador said. ''Then I'll think about the Tour and Vuelta.''

Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara finished second in the stage, six seconds behind Malori, and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins was third, 11 seconds back.

Contador finished 29 seconds behind Malori in the stage.

''I knew I could put down a great time,'' said the 26-year-old Malori, who also won a time trial in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January. ''This year has started really well for me. I've made a real jump in quality.''

Many riders used the race as a warmup for Sunday's Milan-San Remo classic.

After struggling in Italy, 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans withdrew before the final stage to return home and resume training for the Giro d'Italia.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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