Deignan ends long wait for top-ten finish

 

Cycling:Philip Deignan claimed Ireland’s first top-ten finish in a Grand Tour in 16 years today when he held on to ninth spot as the Vuelta a España came to a finish in Madrid.

The Letterkenny man completed the three-week race 11 minutes and eight seconds behind victorious Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde.

Andre Greipel claimed today’s final stage, but Valverde finished among the main group to clinch overall glory on home turf.

Caisse d’Epargne rider Valverde took the race leader’s golden jersey 13 days ago and held it right to the end in the Spanish capital following the finale of seven six-kilometre circuits in Madrid city centre.

He ended the race 55 seconds clear of compatriot Samuel Sanchez, one minute 32 seconds ahead of Australian Cadel Evans and two minutes 12 seconds up on Italian Ivan Basso (Liquigas).

“I have shown that I am a three-week rider, I believed it and maybe some fans and others had doubts,” Valverde said after the 110.2-kilometres trek from Rivas.

German Greipel (Columbia-HTC) completed today’s route in three hours, 11 minutes, 55 seconds — powering past Italian Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) in the final 100 metres to earn his fourth Vuelta stage win.