Alejandro Valverde Rides to Stage Victory and Overall Lead in Vuelta
Team Movistar's Alejandro Valverde took the overall lead in the 2012 Vuelta a Espana earlier today after winning the third stage in a photo finish.
Valverde edged fellow Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez of Team Katusha at the end of the 96-mile mountain stage from Faustino V to a summit finish in the Basque town of Eibar.
"Both of us deserved to win," Valverde said of Rodriguez, who looked like he was headed for victory when Valverde made his last push.
"At the end I was able to come back and win," he said and added "He let up a little at the end and I managed to stick my wheel out in front."
Christopher Froome of Team Sky and Alberto Contador of Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank were next to cross the finish line, followed by a group of riders six seconds behind the four front runners who clocked a time of three hours, 49 minutes, 37 seconds.
Valverde, who won the 2009 Vuelta a España before serving a two-year doping ban, took the red leader's jersey with a 19-second lead over Rodriguez. Froome is 20 seconds back, while Contador is 24 seconds off Valverde's pace.
Contador, who returned from a doping ban earlier this month, tried to break free several times on the final climb, only to be followed by the other main contenders.
"It was a pity not to win, but my goal is Madrid," the two-time Tour de France winner commented.
Tuesday's stage 4 is a 99-mile ride from Barakaldo to Estacion de Valdezcaray.
The 2012 Vuelta a Espana finishes on September 9 in Madrid.
Watch video highlights from all stages of the Vuelta in our videos section (U.S. access only due to geo restrictions)