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Tour champion Contador tops world rankings

TOUR de France champion Alberto Contador finished at the top of the 2009 world rankings published yesterday by the International Cycling Union.

The 26-year-old Spaniard amassed more than half his 527 points by winning the Tour in July, plus three stages of the sport's signature race. The rankings took into account the UCI World Calendar, a series of 24 stage races and one-day classics held since January.

Spain filled the podium positions with Spanish Vuelta and Dauphine Libere winner Alejandro Valverde second with 483 points, and reigning Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez third with 357.

Valverde could yet be stripped of his wins and points if a doping ban which prevents him from racing in Italy is extended worldwide by the UCI. The governing body is waiting to act after Valverde's appeal against the Italian Olympic Committee ruling is heard Nov. 16 at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Lance Armstrong, who raced a selective program and was sidelined by a collarbone injury in the spring, was 31st. The 38-year-old American collected most of his 150 points from racing the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.

Contador and Armstrong's efforts helped their Astana squad finish at the top of the team rankings. Armstrong will ride for his own RadioShack team next season.

Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne team was second, and Team Columbia of the United States - which placed Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway and Mark Cavendish of Britain in the individual top 10 - was third.

Spain easily topped the nations standings ahead of Italy and Australia.

The 2010 World Calendar begins with Australia's Tour Down Under stage race in January.


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