Cunego Wins Stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana
Australian Cadel Evans took the overall lead on the Tour of Spain's first day in the mountains after finishing fourth behind stage eight winner Damiano Cunego.
Silence-Lotto rider Evans holds a two-second advantage on Spain's Alejandro Valverde, with Samuel Sanchez in third, eight seconds back.
After heading the Giro d'Italia in 2002 and the Tour de France in 2008, Evans has now led cycling's three major stage races.
"I didn't know how motivated I'd be for the Tour of Spain before I started, but as things have turned out, I can only be pleased," Evans told reporters on Sunday.
"I'm going to take it on the day by day, but I came through the mountains well and now I'm leading overall. That's encouraging."
A disappointing 30th overall in this year's Tour de France after finishing second in 2007 and 2008, Evans said he had no real idea why he had under-performed so badly in July.
"I still don't know what went wrong in the Tour, it was a whole combination of things," the 32-year-old said.
"But I went on holiday immediately afterwards, then came back refreshed and deciding to focus on the last part of the season."
"I got fourth in the world championships in 2007, my best ever result, after completing the Vuelta, and this time I want to stay all the way to Madrid, too."
Former Giro champion Cunego overtook daylong breakaway David Moncoutie of France with less than a kilometre to go to claim the first Tour of Spain victory of his career.
Moncoutie crossed the mist-enshrouded summit finish line at Aitana 33 seconds back, with Dutchman Robert Gesink third place. Evans was fourth, 44 seconds off the pace.
"I've received a lot of criticism for not winning more in these last few years," the 27-year-old Cunego told reporters.
"So today's victory was one of the most important of my career.
"I'd not decided beforehand on whether to try my luck and attack in today's stage or tomorrow's which is just as mountainous.
"But with two and a half kilometres to go, I thought I'd have a go and see what happened, and it worked."
Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg abandoned the race during Sunday's tough 204-km mountainous stage. A team statement said the SaxoBank rider was suffering from flu.
The Tour of Spain finishes on Sept. 20 in Madrid.
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