The 20th, and final stage, of the 2007 Tour de France ended on the Champs-Elysees today, crowning a new champion and ending three weeks of racing, controversy, and scandal.
Alberto Contador rode into Paris wearing the Yellow Jersey, and the traditionally ceremonial ride of the final stage was respected by his closest rivals, conceding the day to the Spaniard. When it was over, the 24 year old Tour rookie stood atop the podium, celebrating his first win in cycling’s premiere event. On the podium with him was Cadel Evans of Australia in second place, just 23 seconds behind, and American Levi Leipheimer took third, 31 seconds behind Contador. It was the closest podium in the history of the Tour. It was also the first win by a Spaniard since the great Miguel Indurain reeled off five victories, the last of which came in 1995.
Today’s stage was another flat and fast course with the final points up for grabs for the sprinters. The stage win went to Daniele Bennati of Italy, who dashed to the finish line, out racing several other top sprinters to claim the victory. Contador was safely back in the Peloton, protected by his Discovery Channel teammates, whose job today was to ensure that the Tour leader arrived to the finish line without incident.
Contador also claimed the White Jersey, which goes to the best young rider in the Tour. The Green Jersey for the top sprinter went to Tom Boonen of Belgium and the Polka Dot Jersey for the King of the Mountain was won by Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez of Columbia, who is also a rookie, and at the age of 24 served notice to the world of cycling that he could be a force to reckon with in the years to come.
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