Contador's Spanish Vuelta lead cut by Valverde

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Associated Press

Posted on September 7, 2012 at 2:01 PM

SEGOVIA, Spain (AP) — Alberto Contador lost 17 seconds of his overall lead Friday with only one more day of real racing left in the Spanish Vuelta.

The Spaniard, bidding for his second Vuelta title, now leads by Alejandro Valverde by 1:35. Joaquin Rodriguez is 2:21 behind in third before Saturday's mountain stage. The classic ends Sunday in Madrid.

Philippe Gilbert of Belgium won the 19th stage ahead of Valverde, who shaved valuable seconds off Contador's lead before the deciding next-to-last leg.

Gilbert held off the Spanish trio of Valverde, Daniel Moreno and Rodriguez on the slight climb to the finish line to take the 111-mile stage in 4 hours, 56 minutes, 25 seconds. Contador crossed the line 3 seconds later in 10th place.

Valverde, the 2009 winner, will need an impressive performance to capture his second Vuelta.

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