Spain's Valverde finishes atop field in Tour de France tune-up


LA TOUSSUIRE, France -- Alejandro Valverde won the Dauphine Libere on Sunday, putting the Spanish cyclist among the favorites for next month's Tour de France.

Kazakh rider Dmitriy Fofonov won the seventh and final stage, completing the 79.5 miles from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Grenoble in 3 hours, 17 minutes, 20 seconds. The leg featured three big climbs and a downhill finish.

Valverde finished with a total time of 27 hours, 39 minutes, edging Cadel Evans of Australia by 39 seconds. Levi Leipheimer of the United States -- the 2006 Dauphine winner -- was third, 1:24 back.

"I was very motivated to fight all the way and win," said Valverde, who also won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege two months ago. "... It's also a good sign before the Tour."

All are possible contenders for the Tour de France. Evans was second last year in cycling's biggest race, and Leipheimer was third.

Valverde won two stages in the Dauphine -- a dazzling sprint finish in the first stage and Wednesday's time trial -- and held on through climbs in the Alps in the last four stages.