Barcelona: Troubled Spanish rider Alberto Contador claimed his biggest win of the 2011 season when he won the Tour of Catalunya on Sunday.
The Saxo Bank rider was already in the lead when he learned on Thursday that the International Cycling Union (UCI) would be challenging his acquittal for a positive test from last year's Tour de France for the banned substance clenbuterol.
On Sunday, Contador completed the seven-day race in Barcelona's city centre with a 23-second overall advantage over Italian Michele Scarponi, with Ireland's Dan Martin third, 35 seconds back.
"This was one of the hardest week-long races I've ever done," Contador told reporters. "I've done others with more mountains in them that were far easier."
"For the last four days, even if it's been fairly flat, there have been continual attacks and I've had to respond to some of them in person."
"This has been a very good way of sharpening my form for the Tour of Italy."
Contador, one of seven Tour de France winners to win the Catalunya event, said: "This race was one I really wanted...it's very prestigious."
Asked if the win was his way of responding to the UCI appeal, Contador answered: "I haven't raced here to make any response to anybody. I always race to win at 100 percent."
The final stage, from Parets del Valles to Barcelona, was won by France's Samuel Dumoulin ahead of Colombian Rigoberto Uran.
First Published: Monday, March 28, 2011, 08:53