The 19th Stage of the Tour de France was an individual time trial that had Tour leader Alberto Contador of Spain dueling it out on the course with Australian Cadel Evans and American Levi Leipheimer for the right to ride onto the Champs-Élysées wearing the Yellow Jersey.
The course was 35 miles in length, mostly flat, and fast. There was a light sprinkling of rain to keep things interesting, and Evans and Leipheimer were not about to let Contator take the Tour without a fight. Going into the day the Spaniard held a 1:50 lead over Evan and 2:49 lead over the American.
Levi went out fast and furious, blowing away all the previous times and taking the stage win, but when the dust settled, Contator still held a 23 second lead over the Australian and 31 seconds over Leipheimer. It looks like, barring any unforeseen accidents, that Contador will ride to Paris on Sunday and claim his first Tour win.
Sunday’s ride traditionally is a time for the sprinters to collect the last points in the competition for the Green Jersey, while the rider in Yellow finishes up in a mostly ceremonial ride to the finish line. Unless Contador crashes, or someone breaks tradition and forces a breakaway, it appears that he’ll be the 2007 Tour Champion.
Discovery Team co-owner Lance Armstrong was on hand to watch todays proceedings and will be there tomorrow to watch his rider cruise into Paris. The mood of the Tour is a bit subdued following the doping scandals that have dogged it this year. Hopefully tomorrow we can focus on crowning a new champ and celebrating the event as a whole rather than controversies of the past three weeks. On Sunday, let’s celebrate the Tour. On Monday, lets go to work on fixing cycling.
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