Contador extends advantage
Alberto Contador continued his dominance of the Tour de France with victory in stage 18, an individual time-trial around Annecy.
Last Updated: 04/08/09 5:25pm
Astana's Alberto Contador continued his dominance of the Tour de France with victory in stage 18, an individual time-trial around Annecy.
Contador, the last man to set out on the 40.5 kilometre course, clocked a time of 48 minutes and 30 seconds to beat Fabian Cancellara into second place by three seconds. Mikhail Ignatiev was third, a further 12 seconds back.
The Spaniard, who won the race in 2007, now has just three stages left to negotiate before the Tour finishes in Paris on Sunday.
"It's been a great day," said the 27-year-old from Madrid.
"Winning a time-trial in the Tour de France is really special. And I beat all the specialists.
"We are near the end but there are still three days left. I must be careful."
The big loser on the day was Frank Schleck, who tumbled down the overall standings from third to sixth after finishing 35th, two minutes and 34 seconds slower than Contador.
Another Astana rider, Lance Armstrong - 16th quickest on the day - did enough to move back up to third in general classification.
Garmin's British hope Bradley Wiggins, sixth in the time-trial, and Astana's number three Andeas Kloeden, ninth, also gained sufficient time to overtake the elder Schleck brother in the GC.
But Andy Schleck produced a respectable performance, one minute and 45 seconds behind Contador in 21st, to retain his second position overall.
The Saxo Bank rider's deficit to Contador is now four minutes and 11 seconds, although he will have the opportunity for one last attack in Saturday's stage to Mont Ventoux - ideal terrain for the climbing specialist.
Stage 18 result:
1 A Contador (Spain/Astana) 48mins 30secs
2 F Cancellara (Switzerland/Saxo Bank) +3"
3 M Ignatiev (Russia/Katusha) +15"
4 G Larsson (Sweden/Saxo Bank) +33"
5 D Millar (Britain/Garmin) +41"
6 B Wiggins (Britain/Garmin) +43"
7 L Leon Sanchez (Spain/Caisse d'Epargne) +44"
8 C Moreau (France/Agritubel) +45"
9 A Kloeden (Germany/Astana) +54"
10 D Zabriskie (US/Garmin) +1:02"
1 A Contador (Spain/Astana) 73hrs 15mins 39s
2 A Schleck (Luxembourg / Saxo Bank ) +4:11"
3 L Armstrong (US/Astana) +5:25"
4 B Wiggins (Britain/Garmin) +5:36"
5 A Kloeden (Germany/Astana) +5:38"