Cycling - In-form Valverde wins Tour of Basque country

(Reuters) - Alejandro Valverde laid down a marker ahead of this month's Ardennes classics when the Spaniard won the Tour of the Basque country on Saturday.

The Movistar rider took second place in the final time trial behind Slovenia's Primoz Roglic to add to his Tour of Murcia, Tour of Andalucia and Tour of Catalonia titles this season.

Valverde, one of very few riders with major titles or podium finishes in both grand tours and one-day races, controlled the opposition in the mountains before securing the win in the 27.7-km time trial around Eibar on Saturday.

Overall, he beat fellow Spaniards Alberto Contador and Jon Izaguirre by 17 and 21 seconds respectively.

The 36-year-old will be the man to watch in the Ardennes classics that start next weekend with the Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands.

Two races in Belgium then follow -- the Fleche Wallonne, which Valverde has won for the last three years, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which he has claimed on four occasions.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ian Chadband)

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