LES GETS, France — Alberto Contador signaled his strong form a little less than a month before the Tour de France starts with a fine victory in the Criterium du Dauphine prologue on Sunday.
Contador, who won the Tour de France twice and is again among the favorites this year, was the fastest against the clock in the brutal four-kilometer ascent to the top of the Mont Chery in the Alps.
Contador’s former teammate Richie Porte was second, six seconds back, while two-time Tour winner Chris Froome lagged 13 seconds behind in third position.
Contador said: “The climb suited me really well. I didn’t expect to win but I can’t say it’s a surprise to beat Chris Froome.”
The Tour de France starts on July 2 at the Mont-Saint-Michel.
GENT, Belgium (AP) Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet won his second race in three days Sunday, beating fellow Belgian Jens Keukeleire in a two-man sprint finish to take the Gent-Wevelgem classic.
World champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who won last year’s race, finished third.
The 249-kilometer (154.7-mile) race through Belgium included two ascents of the steep, cobbled Kemmelberg hill, one of the iconic climbs of the spring classics season.
Last year’s race was overshadowed by the death of Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie after a fall.
Sagan fell Friday in the E3 Harelbeke, which Van Avermaet also won to add to his victory last month in Het Nieuwsblad.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Alejandro Valverde of Spain won his second Tour of Catalonia on Sunday.
Valverde secured the victory by finishing first in the 139-kilometer (86-mile) seventh stage, perfectly timing his final sprint at a hilltop overlooking Barcelona.
He finished the weeklong race more than one minute ahead of Alberto Contador and Marc Soler, who closed out the all-Spanish podium.
Valverde won despite receiving a one-minute time penalty Wednesday after race officials ruled that some Movistar riders pushed one another in Tuesday’s team time trial.
The 36-year-old Valverde had won two other stages.
Valverde also won the race in northeastern Spain in 2009, the same year he clinched the Spanish Vuelta for his only Grand Tour title.
Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome fell out of contention during Saturday’s stage.