Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) won the fifth and final stage of the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland on Sunday, stealing the overall win from Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia).
Valverde escaped on Ovronnaz, the last of the tough stage’s three category one climbs, with Igor Anton (Euskaltel), stage four winner Simon Spilak (Lampre) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank), leaving the group containing race leader Rogers trailing.
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With only one second between them on GC at the start of the stage, Valverde rode the stage to perfection gaining time on Rogers and giving himself the winner’s time bonus. Rogers came home 23 seconds adrift of Valverde and slipped to fourth overall.
Spilak moved up to second overall, with Menchov rounding off the podium in third.
Valverde’s victory in Romandie – a ProTour race – is further embarassment for the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Valverde is currently banned from racing in Italy – the Italian Olympic Committee suspended him on the grounds that DNA in a blood sample taken from Valverde during an anti-doping control matched that in blood found in the Madrid clinic of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, centre of the Operacion Puerto drugs bust.
Recently, Valverde had his appeal against the Italian ban over-turned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The UCI is currently seeking to extend the ban worldwide.
For Valverde to win one of the UCI’s top-level events whilst the organisation seeks to ban him does not sit well with many commentators and fans.
If Valverde does have his ban subsequently extended outside Italy, he will likely have all of his race wins stripped since the Italian ban commenced – May 11, 2009.
Tour de Romandie 2010, stage five: Sion
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 157.9km in 3-36-19
2. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskatel-Euskadi
3. Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini
4. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at same time
5. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack at 23secs
Final overall classification
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
2. Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini at 11secs
3. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 21secs
4. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 35secs
5. Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Katusha at 42secs