Garate day for Spaniards

Schleck forced to settle for second, Armstrong retains place on podium

Last Updated: 04/08/09 5:23pm

  • Share:
Garate: First to finish on Mount Vertoux

Garate: First to finish on Mount Vertoux

Sky Bet

Alberto Contador finished fourth in the penultimate stage of the Tour de France to retain the yellow jersey and all-but assure himself of the overall title.

The Spaniard was right behind Andy Schleck, his closest rival in the standings, at the finishing line on the top of Mont Ventoux to maintain his sizeable advantage of four minutes and 11 seconds.

The stage victory went to Contador's compatriot Juan Manuel Garate, who raced clear of German Tony Martin in the final 100 metres.

Both riders had been part of a 16-man breakaway which had gone clear at the start of the 167km trek from Montelimar.

Parade

With the leader allowed something of a victory parade on Sunday's final stage to the Champs Elysees, Contador seems certain to be crowned champion.

It will be the second Tour de France crown for the Astana rider, who has been in yellow since last weekend, after he also won the event in 2007.

"It has been a different, special, tough Tour," he said afterwards. "The only thing I had to do was to control Andy Schleck and I was able to do it. He tried to attack many times and he was very strong, but I was too.

"I'm also glad we managed to keep Lance in third place."

Schleck, who attacked on countless occasions on the gruelling 21km climb up the legendary Mount Ventoux, was full of praise for Contador.

"He was undoubtedly the strongest rider in the Tour," he said. "He was there every day, never had a bad day. He won three stages and is a gentleman.

"Next year, against such a rider, it will be tough again but I'm young and can improve again."

Podium finish

Lance Armstrong ended up fifth to maintain his grip on third place in the general classification. If the American can, as expected, retain his position he will end up on the podium in Paris for the first time since 2005.

Bradley Wiggins battled bravely to come home in 10th and hang on to fourth, putting him on course to equal the best overall finish by a Brit.

The Garmin-Slipstream rider was dropped on several occasions on the final climb but each time fought back to the main group. Although dropped again in the final kilometre, he still sits three seconds clear of Frank Schleck.

The 2009 edition of Le Tour comes to a climax with a 164.5km ride from Montereau-Fault-Yonne into the heart of Paris on Sunday.

Stage result:
1. Juan Manuel Garate (Spain / Rabobank) 4hrs 39mins 21secs
2. Tony Martin (Germany / Columbia ) +3
3. Andy Schleck (Luxembourg / Saxo Bank ) +38
4. Alberto Contador (Spain / Astana )
5. Lance Armstrong (U.S. / Astana ) +41
6. Frank Schleck (Luxembourg / Saxo Bank ) +43
7. Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic / Liquigas ) +46
8. Franco Pellizotti (Italy / Liquigas ) +56
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Liquigas ) +58
10. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Garmin ) +1:03

Overall standings:
1. Alberto Contador (Spain / Astana ) 81hrs 46mins 17secs
2. Andy Schleck (Luxembourg / Saxo Bank ) +4:11
3. Lance Armstrong (U.S. / Astana ) +5:24
4. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Garmin ) +6:01
5. Frank Schleck (Luxembourg / Saxo Bank ) +6:04

  • Share:

Related

Tour de France 2009

Cavendish: First Brit to win on Champs Elysees

Cav wins, Contador crowned

Mark Cavendish clinched his sixth stage win on the Champs Elysees as Alberto Contador was crowned 2009 Tour de France champion.

Cavendish: British record

Five-star win for Cavendish

Mark Cavendish became the most successful British rider in Tour de France history with his fifth stage win of this year's race.

Tour schedule/results

The Tour de France covers approximately 3,460 kilometres in 23 days, check the stage-by-stage itinerary.

Most Popular

Features

Vuelta lessons

Vuelta lessons

Eight things we learnt from the final Grand Tour of the season, won by Alberto Contador.

New direction

New direction

In the latest instalment of her blog, Joanna Rowsell explains why she has changed teams.

Riders to watch

Riders to watch

We pick out the GC contenders, sprinters and Britons to keep an eye on at the Tour of Britain.