Castellon, Spain: Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador finished runner-up in the Spanish nationals in stifling heat on Sunday, beaten by one second in his final tuneup for next month`s showcase race.
Jose Joaquin Rojas bolted past Contador with 200 yards left and held on to win. He completed the 123-mile road race in 5 hours, 1 minute, 25 seconds.
"I ran my race," said Contador, who begins riding in the Tour on July 2. "He ran a strong race, and it was going to be practically impossible for me to reach the finish line by myself. It was a tough race, especially because of the intense heat."
The Spaniard was competing for the first time since last month`s Giro d`Italia victory. He finished third in Friday`s time trial.
"It wasn`t a race that really suited my characteristics so I can still leave here happy," Contador said. "The objective for the five days leading up to the Tour are to rest."
Contador was cleared by his country`s federation of a failed drug test at last year`s Tour. He blamed his positive test on contaminated meat, but the International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Contador`s hearing is set for August.