On Sunday, Alberto Contador held on to win the time trial in Stage 19, and now appears all but certain to win the 2010 Tour de France, his third in four years.
Andy Schleck made a charge that gave Contador reason to worry, but Contador was able to ride consistently enough to seal the win.
Our cycling blog, Podium Cafe, reflects on the Schleck/Contador battles of this year's Tour:
Schleck's performance was an upset, or maybe it was the high expectations for Contador, but either way it made for great drama on the road, and it failed to put to rest the debate over Contador's attack on stage 16 when Schleck lost 39" to a chain drop. Ultimately, though, while Schleck was inspired, Contador rode a very smart race, not panicking and riding better over the latter half of the race.
Here are what the standings look like at the end of Stage 19:
- Alberto Contador, Astana
- Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 0.39
- Denis Menchov, Rabobank, at 2.01
- Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel, at 3.40
- Jurgen VandenBroeck, Omega Pharma, at 6.54
- Robert Gesink, Rabobank, at 9.31
- Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Transitions, at 10.15
- Joaquim Rodriguez, Katusha, at 11.37
- Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas, at 11.54
- Chris Horner, Radio Shack, at 12.02
Stage 20, which takes place on Sunday, is the Tour's final stage and is otherwise known as the Champs-Élysées. It's largely ceremonial, so these standings are not likely to change. This officially sounds the bell on Lance Armstrong, who currently sits in 23rd place and had designs on winning his eighth Tour de France.
For more on the Tour de France, be sure to check out our cycling blog, Podium Cafe.