» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments
HOT TOPIC TOUR DE FRANCE

Contador Surges to Tour de France Lead; Armstrong Is Second Overall

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
By Jon Brand
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, July 20, 2009

VERBIER, Switzerland, July 19 -- The Tour de France moved into the Swiss Alps on Sunday, and with it came the usual promise of spectacle.

This Story

After a week of relatively flat stages, showcasing sprint finishes and long breakaways by non-contenders, the mention of mountain battles was enough to make even the veteran Lance Armstrong excited.

But under stunningly blue skies, a few light clouds and snowcapped peaks, it was Alberto Contador, Armstrong's Astana teammate, who instantly delivered.

With 5.6 kilometers left of the 207.5-km ride on a tough uphill climb into Verbier, the Spaniard accelerated away from a breakaway group filled with general classification contenders to claim Stage 15 decisively and move into the yellow jersey.

In his wake were a talented bunch, including Armstrong and Astana teammate Andréas Klöden, as well as Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck and Garmin-Slipstream's Bradley Wiggins.

But despite their talent, Contador could not be caught.

He finished the stage in 5 hours 3 minutes 58 seconds. That time was 43 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Schleck, a 24-year-old Luxembourger considered one of the sport's new stars.

"In the end I managed to do what I wanted to make the difference," said Contador, winner of the 2007 Tour. "If I wanted to leave my rivals behind me in the standings, that was the only way I could do it."

Armstrong, who didn't respond to Contador's mountain attack for the second time this Tour, rode across the finish line 1:35 behind his 26-year-old teammate.

The Texan is now second in the overall classification, 1:37 back of Contador.

"He was the best in the race," Armstrong told reporters at the finish line. "We were all at the limit, and he was able to accelerate again."


CONTINUED     1        >

» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments
© 2009 The Washington Post Company

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity