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Page last updated at 17:54 GMT, Saturday, 24 July 2010 18:54 UK

Alberto Contador set to win third Tour de France title

Tour de France 2010
Start: 3 July, Rotterdam Finish: 25 July, Paris
Coverage: Listen to the final hour of every stage on the BBC Sport website (UK only), with selected stages on BBC 5 live sports extra ; Watch live on Eurosport and ITV4; Live text commentary each day on BBC Sport website

Alberto Contador
Contador displayed his superior time-trial abilities

Alberto Contador is set to win his third Tour de France after increasing his lead over Andy Schleck to 39 seconds going into the final stage.

Contador began Saturday's individual time trial with an eight-second advantage over the Luxemburger before outpacing his rival over the 52km.

Swiss time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara took the stage, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Germany's Tony Martin.

Sky team-mates Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas finished ninth and 10th.

It was a bad day for Spaniard Samuel Sanchez, whose hopes of a podium finish were shattered when his overall third place was snatched away by Russian Denis Menchov, who transformed a 31-second deficit into a one-minute and 39 second advantage.

606: DEBATE

Sunday's final stage, which finishes in Paris and at 102.5km is the shortest of the Tour, should now be a procession for Astana rider Contador.

But during the opening kilometres of the time trial, the Spaniard had cause to worry.

At the first checkpoint at 18.2km, his overall lead had been cut to two seconds by Schleck, who was widely regarded as an inferior time-triallist.

I think it's the first Tour I've won where I've been so emotional

Alberto Contador

"To be honest, I got some information that said I was five seconds behind Andy, and I started to panic," said Contador.

"I started to think, 'Oh my God, this is it, it's over'. And I stayed that way until the finish line really."

However, after 36.2km, the second official time check, Contador was six seconds ahead on the day which amounted to a 14-second overall lead.

Schleck was beginning to suffer towards the closing kilometres, while his rival pushed harder and crossed the line having increased his overall lead to 39 seconds.

He then burst into tears knowing that Sunday would see him crowned as the Tour de France winner for the third time in four years.

"It was a very hard day," he said.

"I've worked so hard for so many years but today it really came right down to the wire. That's why I'm so emotional.

"In fact, I think it's the first Tour I've won where I've been so emotional.

"I want to thank all the people who have been there for me these last years."

Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong was 67th fastest over the 52km, but held on to 23rd place overall by four seconds ahead of Team Sky's Wiggins.

Texan Armstrong will complete his 13th and final Tour on Sunday.

Although the winner of cycling's premier race has all but been determined, the points classification's green jersey is still up for grabs - with 35 points on offer for Sunday's stage winner.

Italian Lampre-Farnese rider Alessandro Petacchi is currently leading on 213 points, with Norway's Cervelo sprinter Thor Hushovd 10 points behind and British HTC-Columbia rider Mark Cavendish six points further adrift.


Stage 19 results:

1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxobank) 1 hour 0 min and 56 secs
2. Tony Martin (Ger/HTC Columbia) + 17 secs
3. Bert Grabsch (Ger/HTC Columbia) + 1 min 48 secs

Selected others:

9 Bradley Wiggins (GB/Sky) + 3'33"
10 Geraint Thomas (GB/Sky) + 3'33"
11 Denis Menchov (Rus/Rabobank + 3'51"
35 Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) +5:43
40 Samuel Sanchez (Spain/Euskaltel) +5'51"
44 Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 6'14"
67 Lance Armstrong (USA/Radioshack) +7'05"

Overall standings:

1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) 89hrs 16mins 27secs
2. Andy Schleck (Luxembourg/Saxo Bank) +39"
3. Denis Menchov (Rus/Rabobank) +2'01"
4. Samuel Sanchez (Spain/Euskaltel) +3'40"
5. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) +6'54""

Selected others:

15. Nicolas Roche (Ire/ AG2R) +16'59"
17. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe/ Sky) +20'46"
23. Lance Armstrong (US / Radioshack) +39'20"
24. Bradley Wiggins (GB / Sky) +39'24"
26. Cadel Evans (Aus/ BMC) +50'27"
67. Geraint Thomas (GB / Sky) +2h 05'00"
151. Stephen Cummings (GB / Sky) +3h 45'47"
154. Mark Cavendish (GB / HTC-Columbia) +3h 51'23"
158. David Millar (GB / Garmin) +3h 56'46"
163. Jeremy Hunt (GB / Cervelo) +4h 02'21"
164. Daniel Lloyd (GB / Cervelo) +4h 02'59"




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see also
Contador holds on to overall lead
22 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France day by day
04 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2010 guide
02 Jul 10 |  Cycling


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