Spanish cyclist sweeps 3 major races

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Alberto Contador wins the Vuelta a Espana race, becoming the first Spaniard to win the three most important events in cycling.

22 September 2008

MADRID -- Alberto Contador became the first Spaniard Sunday to win the three most important events in cycling: the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España.

The 25-year-old Astana rider won the Vuelta 46 seconds ahead of his teammate Levi Leipheimer of the United States. Carlos Sastre, winner of this year's Tour de France, was third.

"I'm not really conscious of what I've achieved", said the Madrid-born rider shortly after his victory.

"In a three-week race anything can happen and it's difficult to win. I've always said that until you cross the line you can't celebrate. Three kilometres from the finish there was a fall that I managed to dodge. Once you've won, you realise that it's something big. In time I'll savor it. Right now I'm not really taking much notice".

Contador joins the group of four other men who have achieved the sport's "triple crown": Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil and Felice Gimondi.
With Sastre's victory in the Tour de France earlier in 2008, Spain is only the second country to hold all three major titles in the same year, and the first to do so this century.

"I'm ready to help Spain win the World Championship [next Sunday in Varese]". said Contador. "I'm happy to represent my country and I have no problems playing a side role. It's an honour".

[El Pais / R. Train / Expatica]

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