Spanish rider Alberto Contador has claimed his third Tour de France win after securing the victory yesterday in a 32.3 mile long individual time trial that ran across the French countryside from Bordeaux to Pauillac. Despite being pushed to the limit by his rival, Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, Contador extended his lead in the race, winning by 39 seconds. Today, he’ll finish off the 2010 Tour by taking the ceremonial ride into Paris wearing the leader’s Yellow Jersey, while the top sprinters vie for one last stage win on the Champs Elysees.
For the past three weeks, the world’s best cyclists have dueled one another across France, fighting it out most spectacularly in the Alps and the Pyrenees. This year’s route threw some of the toughest climbs ever at the riders, and it was Contador and Schleck who were clearly the two best cyclists in the Peloton. Schleck actually led the race heading into Monday, when the two riders were on the final climb the day. Misfortune hit on the slopes of the Port de Balès, when Schleck dropped a chain and had to stop to make a quick repair. Sensing an opportunity, Contador attacked, gaining more than 30 seconds, and taking the lead in the race for the first time. He never looked back and Schleck was never able to recover.
Today marks the final stage of the race, a 63.6 mile ride from Longjumeau to Paris. Traditionally, the riders don’t attack the Yellow Jersey on the final day, allowing the leader to ride to the finish line in a glorified victory lap. Once there, Contador will take the top of the podium in Yellow, while Schleck will win the White Jersey, which is awarded each year to the Tour’s best young rider under the age of 25. France’s Anthony Charteau has won the Polka Dot Jersey, which goes to the King of the Mountain, the Tour’s best climber, each year. The final jersey to be awarded will be the Green Jersey, which goes to the best sprinter in the race. Sprint points will still be up for grabs on today’s final stage, with three riders in a position to win the title.
In his final ride in the Tour de France, seven-time winner Lance Armstrong finishes in 23rd place, nearly 40 minutes behind Contador.
[Photo credit: Reuters]