Contador leads as Tour of Spain approaches Madrid


VALLADOLID, Spain -- Alberto Contador of Spain maintained the overall lead at the Spanish Vuelta while Wouter Weylandt won the 17th stage on Wednesday.

Contador, aiming to complete a sweep of the three major cycling crowns after winning the 2007 Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia this year, leads with an overall time of 69 hours, 53 minutes, 52 seconds.

Weylandt, of QuickStep, won the 92.1-mile leg from Zamora in 3:18:48. Matti Breschel of Team CSC was second ahead of AG2R-La Mondiale rider Alexandre Usov, with both riders finishing the sprint in the same time.

After 17 stages, QuickStep has won three more stages than any other squad in the race, with Belgian Tom Boonen and Italian
world champion Paolo Bettini taking two apiece for the team.

"Normally I'm Tom's lead-out man in the sprint here in Spain
but today with 20 kilometers left to race he said I would have
my chance," Weylandt said.
"I had a bad crash four days ago on a descent, hurting both
my knees, but I've slowly recovered and today I finally felt at
100 percent again.

"Bettini and [Italian teammate Matteo] Tosatto did a lot of
work for me in the last kilometers and I could just win the
sprint. Winning a stage in my first major Tour and after such an
awful early part of the year, full of crashes and minor
injuries, is a very special feeling," he said.

Contador placed 42nd in the same time as Weylandt to keep his 1:17 advantage over Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer. Reigning Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre of Team CSC remained 3:41 behind the leader in third.

"Today was a day for the sprinters, one for the rest of us to get through," Contador told Spanish television TVE. "The most
important thing was to get through unscathed."

Contador said his last big target would be Saturday's mountain time trial, where he
hopes to seal his overall victory.

"Me and Levi will both race the time trial flat out, with
no team orders. I'm looking forward to that stage very much," he said.

The race ends Sunday in Madrid.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.