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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Denis Menchov Wins His 2nd Tour of Spain

MADRID -- Russia's Denis Menchov won the Tour of Spain for the second time Sunday to don the gold jersey on the final podium in Madrid at last.

Menchov won his first Spanish title in 2005 when Spaniard Roberto Heras was stripped of the crown after testing positive for the banned blood booster EPO, or erythropoietin.

This time Rabobank's Menchov, 29, was able to celebrate his successful defense of an overall lead taken on the ninth stage of this year's race and never relinquished.

Born in Oryol, Menchov played football as a child before being spotted by talent scouts from the prestigious CSKA cycling school and started racing at 12.

Success competing in France ensured the Russian signed for a top amateur Spanish squad, Banesto, in 1998.

The Spaniards gave his Russian team, Samara, 3,000 euros ($4,233) worth of cycling material -- tires, wheels, and bike frames -- in exchange for their top rider.

After signing a professional contract with Banesto in 2000, Menchov won the Best Young Riders jersey in the Tour de France in 2003, confirming his quality as a stage race rider.

Snapped up by Dutch team Rabobank in 2005 as its Tour leader, Menchov had failed to shine in France because of illness or poor form.

However, he has done far better on this side of the Pyrenees, winning two stages of the 2005 Tour of Spain and -- after Heras' positive test -- the overall title.

Two years later, Menchov, who lives in Naverre, Spain with his wife Nadia and son Ivan, has won the Spanish race on the road rather than by default.

"It makes all the difference in the world to win it like this," Menchov told reporters.