By Nigel Wynn
American Chris Horner blitzed the final time trial in the Tour of the Basque Country to snatch the overall victory from Alejandro Valverde, and to give his RadioShack squad its first big win of the season.
Going into the final stage of the Spanish ProTour race, Horner was just one second adrift of leader Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and knew he had to put everything into his ride to secure the victory.
Horner tackled the distinctly lumpy 22 kilometre course perfectly, beating Valverde by eight seconds on the line and giving him seven seconds' advantage over the Spaniard in the general classification.
It's Horner's first win of the 2010 season for his new US-based squad RadioShack, created by seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. It will be a welcome win for Horner, who suffered a torrid season last year when he broke his leg at the Giro d'Italia in May and crashed out of the Vuelta a Espana in September.
Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) placed 12th on the stage, 41 seconds adrift of Horner. Wiggins finished the race in 35th overall.
Ireland's Daniel Martin (Garmin-Transitions) rode strongly all week to place 15th in the final overall classification, three minutes and 30 seconds down on Horner.
Horner's win over Valverde saves the embarrassment of a banned rider winning a ProTour event. Valverde is currently serving a two-year suspension from competition in Italy. His appeal was recently thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Union Cycliste Internationale subsequently issued a statement saying that it was pursuing a worldwide ban for Valverde.
Tour of the Basque Country 2010, stage 6 ITT
1. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack 22km in 32-33
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne at 8secs
3. Maxime Monfort (Bel) HTC-Columbia at 13secs
4. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 18secs
5. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 21secs
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 23secs
7. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Columbia at 25secs
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 33secs
9. Jean Christophe Peraud (Fra) Pharma-Lotto Omega at 33secs
10. Andreas Kloden (Ger) RadioShack at 34secs
12. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 41secs
Final overall classification
1. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack in 23-27-30
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne at 7secs
3. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 58secs
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 1-06
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 1-10
6. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Columbia at 1-18
7. Sandy Casar (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at 1-47
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-58
9. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 1-59
10. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step at 2-27
Chris Horner in full flow during the final time trial
Sanchez takes stage in Basque Tour
Valverde faces worldwide ban after losing appeal against Italian suspension
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