Tour de France Stage 17: Contador second by a hair, but likely to win overall
In the Tour de France's Stage 17 today, defending champion Alberto Contador hung with rival Andy Schleck up the race's most iconic climb, the Col du Tourmalet. French President Nicolas Sarkozy cheered their effort from the festive sidelines.
La Mongie, France
In Pictures Scenes from the 2010 Tour de France
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As anticipated, the final mountain stage of the three-week Tour played host to a gritty battle between defending champion Contador and Schleck.
Contador, clad in the yellow jersey, crossed the finish line with his 8 second overall lead still intact. Ironically, despite looking likely to win the Tour this year, Contador hasn't captured a single stage victory so far this year, though he came close today.
“I attacked at the end, but he was able to keep up,” Schleck said. “But I’m happy with what I did and that I won a stage.”
Contador: I wanted to show him I had legs
Contador followed, and the two carefully picked their way through a broken breakaway group before finding themselves alone on the steep, narrow roads.
But Schleck did most of the work up the climb, expending energy, with Contador content to just follow his lead.
That is, except at the 2.3 -mile mark, when Contador raced ahead to test the waters.
“My attack was because I wanted to show him I had legs,” said Contador.
Schleck responded, staring the Spaniard down as he pulled alongside. Then the two rode together, wheels inches apart, up to the summit.