Cycling - Valverde wins Ruta del Sol prologue

Movistar's Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde began the defence of his Vuelta a Andalucia title with victory in the prologue.

Cycling - Valverde claims Ruta del Sol victory

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Alejandro Valverde (Imago)

Valverde took the first of four stages on the simple 6km course starting and finishing in San Fernando by two seconds from Simon Spilak (Katusha) with Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) four seconds off the pace.

Katusha's Maxim Belkov laid down a competitive time early on which was only bettered by the top four, Patrick Gretsch (Argos - Shimano, +6s) and Stef Clement (Blanco, +9s).

Bart De Clercq (Lotto Belisol) and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil) matched Belkov's time, which was 10 seconds off the eventual winner's pace of 6:46 - set as the last rider out.

Red jersey Valverde's victory last year came soon after his return from a doping ban.

The race also known as the Ruta del Sol continues on Monday with a 164km run from San Fernando to Ubrique.

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