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Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Saturday, 26 July 2008 18:04 UK

Sastre set to win Tour de France

Carlos Sastre
Sastre was not pushed by Cadel Evans in the stage 20 time-trial

Spaniard Carlos Sastre is heading towards his first Tour de France win after his rivals failed to gain ground in Saturday's key 53km time-trial.

Sastre led by 84 seconds going into the stage but main rival Cadel Evans could only close the gap to 65 seconds with just Sunday's final stage remaining.

Stefan Schumacher won the stage by 21 seconds and Britain's David Millar was fifth while Bernhard Kohl is now third.

Frank Schleck fell from second to sixth overall after a disappointing ride.

Gerolsteiner's Schumacher, who also won the first time-trial of the 2008 Tour, clocked a best time of one hour, three minutes and 50 seconds to beat Swiss Fabian Cancellara by 21 seconds, with Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen coming home third.

But, on the most important day of the Tour so far, all eyes were on the battle between leader Sastre and overall favourite Evans and their individual races against the clock.

On the last 15 km, Sastre was riding as fast as Fabian Cancellara

Bjarne Riis
CSC team manager

Widely expected to overcome a one minute, 34 seconds deficit to leapfrog Sastre, Evans failed to set the pace needed through intermediate checkpoints between Cerilly and Saint-Amand-Montrond and finished seventh, beating the Spaniard by just 29 seconds.

The scene was set for one of the closest Tour finishes in history but Sunday's 21st and final stage - a 143km ride from Etampes to the Champs-Elysees - is now likely to be a ceremonial ride for Sastre.

"I was calm this morning, I knew it was an opportunity of a lifetime for me," said Sastre. "The dream has come true.

"I was feeling better and better on this Tour. I have a good capacity to recuperate from my efforts."

Sastre, who took the yellow jersey courtesy of a bold attack on the ascent to Alpe d'Huez, leads Evans by an apparently insurmountable minute and five seconds, while Gerolsteiner's Austrian climber Bernhard Kohl is in third place, one minute, 20 seconds off the pace.

606: DEBATE
bobdaspider

CSC manager Bjarne Riis, whose team have dominated throughout the Tour, will also be celebrating Luxembourg's Andy Schleck claiming the white jersey for the best young rider.

"We did what we had planned," he said. "On the last 15 km, Sastre was riding as fast as Fabian (Cancellara)."

Sastre, riding in his eighth Tour de France, is set to become the third Spaniard in a row to win the world's greatest stage race, following on from Oscar Pereiro and Alberto Contador.


Stage 20 results, Cerilly to Saint-Amand-Montrond (53km):

1. Stefan Schumacher (GER/GST) 1hr 3min 50sec
2. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/CSC) +21sec
3. Kim Kirchen (LUX/COL) +1min 1sec
4. Christian Vande Velde (USA/GAR) +1min 5sec
5. David Millar (GBR/GAR) +1min 37sec
6. Denis Menchov (RUS/RAB) +1min 55sec
7. Cadel Evans (AUS/SIL) +2min 5sec
8. Sebastian Lang (GER/GST) +2min 19sec
9. Bernhard Kohl (AUT/GST) +2min 21sec
10. George Hincapie (USA/COL) +2min 28sec

Overall standings (after 20 stages):

1. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CSC) 84h 1min
2. Cadel Evans (AUS/SIL) +1min 5sec
3. Bernhard Kohl (AUT/GST) +1min 20sec
4. Denis Menchov (RUS/RAB) +2min
5. Christian Vande Velde (USA/GAR) +3min 12sec
6. Frank Schleck (LUX/CSC) +4min 28sec
7. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) +6min 32sec
8. Kim Kirchen (LUX/COL) +7min 2sec
9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/GCE) +7min 26sec
10. Tadej Valjavec (SLO/A2R) +9min 12sec

Selected other:

67. David Millar (GBR/GAR) +1hr 59min 19sec



see also
Sastre hails Team CSC team-mates
26 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Stage 20 as it happened
26 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France stage 20 photos
26 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Stage 19 as it happened
25 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France stage 18 photos
24 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Sastre takes over as Tour leader
23 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Thomas wants Nevado to be jailed
22 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2008 preview
02 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Cycling on the BBC
11 Jul 08 |  Cycling


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