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Contador wins second career Spanish Vuelta

Winner Alberto Contador listens to the Spanish national anthem at the podium of the Spanish Vuelta cycling race Sunday. (Associated Press)
Winner Alberto Contador listens to the Spanish national anthem at the podium of the Spanish Vuelta cycling race Sunday. (Associated Press)

Cycling: Alberto Contador won his second Spanish Vuelta title on Sunday in Madrid, capturing a fifth triumph at cycling’s major races just over a month after his doping ban ended.

The Spanish cyclist navigated the straightforward and largely processional final leg into and around Madrid with ease to edge out Spanish compatriots Alejandro Valverde and Joaquin Rodriguez in the 21-stage race.

Valverde, the 2009 winner, finished 1 minute, 16 seconds behind. Rodriguez was 1:38 back after having led the 67th edition of the Spanish classic for 13 stages.

Contador crossed the finish line 54th behind stage winner John Degenkolb and celebrated by flashing seven fingers to also represent his 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia victories, titles that he was ultimately stripped of because of a positive drug test.

“Because of what happened coming in, this victory is very special for me and I have to thank everyone who helped me because I came in without having competed for a long time and things were complicated,” Contador said. “Reflecting on it, there are a lot of emotions that are very strong and that can’t be explained with words. It’s a big weight off of me.”

The 29-year-old Spaniard also won the race in 2008 to add to Tour victories in 2007 and 2009 and a Giro triumph in 2008.

He tested positive for clenbuterol en route to winning the 2010 Tour. Contador kept racing while his appeal was ongoing, claiming it was a result of eating contaminated meat. He lost his case in February and his results since August 2010 were erased, including the 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro titles.

Hamilton wins; Alonso ups lead

Auto racing: McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Italy, and Formula One leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari finished third to extend his overall lead.

Speculation about Hamilton’s future and a possible switch to Mercedes dominated the weekend, but the 2008 champion put the focus firmly back on his driving with his first victory at Monza and the 20th of his career.

It’s unlikely to have much impact on the championship after an impressive race from Alonso, much to the delight of the fans at Ferrari’s home track. The Spaniard started from 10th on the grid after he had technical difficulties during qualifying.

Hamilton moved past defending champion Sebastian Vettel to take second place in the drivers’ standings, 37 points behind Alonso.

• Schumacher wins record ninth title: Tony Schumacher raced to his record ninth Top Fuel victory in the U.S. Nationals, beating Spencer Massey with a run of 3.806 seconds at 315.34 mph in the rain-delayed NHRA event in Clermont, Ind.

Schumacher broke a tie with former star Don Garlits for the event Top Fuel victory leader. Schumacher shares the overall mark with former Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden.

Defending champion Mike Neff won the Funny Car division, 15th-seeded Dave Connolly topped the Pro Stock field by edging crowd favorite Erica Enders, and top qualifier Andrew Hines won in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Canadians capture NWL championship

Baseball: Art Charles drilled a two-out three-run triple to cap a seven-run top of the eighth inning and the Vancouver Canadians rallied for a 12-9 victory over the Boise Hawks to win the Northwest League championship series 2-1 in Boise.

Vancouver trailed 7-5 after seven innings. Kellen Sweeney’s two-run single gave the Canadians an 8-7 lead. Balbino Fuenmayor followed with a run-scoring single to set the stage for Charles.

Pondexter leads Liberty past Sparks

Basketball: Cappie Pondexter had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Plenette Pierson scored 17 points, and the New York Liberty rallied to beat the Los Angeles Sparks 73-71 in Newark, N.J.

Essence Carson scored 14 points, including 11 during a 21-3 run in the third quarter that gave the Liberty (12-17) the lead after trailing by 14 points.

Kristi Toliver scored 17 points, Candace Parker had 14 points and 15 rebounds, and rookie Nneka Ogwumike added 13 points for the Sparks (20-10).

Pondexter sealed the win with a free throw with 2.2 seconds remaining.

• Moore’s double-double propels Lynx: Maya Moore had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Lynx to an 81-62 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars in San Antonio.

Rebekkah Brunson added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the defending champion and league-leading Lynx (24-4). Lindsay Whalen and Monica Wright each added 11 points.

Sophia Young scored 20 points for San Antonio (17-11), which lost its third straight at home and fifth in a row overall. No other Silver Stars player scored more than eight points.

San Antonio finished 36 percent (24 for 66) from the field, including 4 for 18 on 3-pointers.

• Dream crush Mystics: Lindsey Harding had 15 points and nine assists, Erika DeSouza had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and the Atlanta Dream cruised to a 93-68 victory over the Washington Mystics in Atlanta.

Armintie Price had 11 of her 15 points in the first half as the Dream (16-14) jumped to a 24-point first-half lead and finished shooting 59 percent. Cathrine Kraayeveld had 11 points.

Crystal Langhorne and Noelle Quinn scored 12 points each for the league-worst Mystics (5-24), who lost their eighth straight. Monique Currie and Jasmine Thomas added 10 points each, and Ashley Robinson grabbed 13 rebounds.

Angel McCoughtry, who came in averaging a league-leading 21.1 points per game, finished with eight points against Washington.

• AAU president dies: National Amateur Athletic Union president Louis Stout has died at the age of 73.

AAU spokesman Ron Sachs says Stout died early Sunday morning at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Sachs says Stout had been hospitalized for about a week with an unspecified illness.

Stout took over the Amateur Athletic Union after the group’s former president, Bobby Dodd, was accused by two former basketball players of molesting them as children in Memphis and other locations in the 1980s.

Under Stout’s leadership, measures were implemented to protect athletes, including background checks required for all adults involved in AAU.