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Contador's Tour de France win caps off banner summer of sports for Spain

Alberto Contador's Tour de France win – with only a 39-second lead over rival Andy Schleck, who finished second – is the latest triumph in an amazing summer of sports for Spain.

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That’s where Contador took the lead from Schleck, in a somewhat controversial breakaway after Schleck had a mechanical problem during Stage 15 in Ax-3 Domaines.

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Despite a challenge from Schleck in Saturday’s individual time trial, Contador held on for the win.

“I was scared that I might not beat Andy in the time trial,” Contador said in a press conference Saturday night. “But I kept very focused and held it together.”

The 39-second win was the fifth smallest margin in Tour history and just the eighth time that the 107-year old race has been won by less than a minute.

But Contador is used to cutting it close — he beat Cadel Evans by just 23 seconds for his first title in 2007.

Cavendish finishes strong, too

Contador wasn’t the only one smiling after the race, which concluded with eight laps around downtown Paris.

HTC-Columbia’s Mark Cavendish exploded past rivals at the finish to win his second straight win on the Champs-Élysées and his fifth stage of this Tour de France.

“It was a perfect end to the Tour and I'm looking forward to celebrating," he said.

Cavendish, however, did not win the green jersey, which is awarded to the best sprinter — in this case veteran Alessandro Petacchi of Italy.

But most every rider was just happy to finish, arriving at the team buses to rounds of applause, hugs, and ice-cold beverages.

“They’re off-duty pretty much starting now,” HTC-Columbia owner Bob Stapleton told the Monitor.

IN PICTURES: Scenes from the Tour de France

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