Sastre's amazing Tour de France; survives time trial with 1:05 to spare

Forget what all the cycling experts said: Cadel Evans didn't have enough speed to catch Carlos Sastre.

2008 Tour de France favorite Evans picked up only 29 seconds on Sastre, when he needed 94 seconds. From the first time checks on Saturday, it was clear that Sastre wouldn't give up his yellow jersey. 

Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner won the 32.9-mile individual time trial on Saturday from Cérilly to Saint Amand Montrond. US cyclist Christian Vande Velde finished in 4th place on the stage, climbing into 5th place in the general classification.

When the Tour de France ends in Paris on Sunday, Sastre will finish in first, Evans in second (for the second straight year), Bernard Kohl in third, Denis Menchov in fourth and Vande Velde in fifth, 1:12 behind Menchov and 3:12 behind Sastre.

Alpe d'Huez

It turns out the race was won on Wednesday, when Sastre blasted out of leaders' pack on Alpe d'Huez and Evans took too long to respond.

Evans, an Australian on the Silence-Lotto team and the favorite to win the Tour this year, had been marking yellow jersey holder Frank Schleck for the entire stage. With Schleck and Sastre on Team CSC, Evans kept his eyes on Schleck until nearly the end of the climb, when he tried to shave a few seconds off Sastre's advantage.

Looking back over this year's Stage 4 time trial and time trial in previous years, Evans had always finished far ahead of Sastre, predominantly a mountain climber. On paper, it looked like Evans could make up the deficit on Sastre.

But Sastre was motivated by the yellow jersey on Saturday and held Evans at bay.

Vande Velde

Another cyclist who showed his heart on Saturday was Vande Velde, who certainly surprised everyone at this year's Tour. The Garmin-Chipotle team leader rode with the overall race leaders through most of the this year's Tour.

His only bad day was Tuesday, when he lost a little time on the final climb then crashed on the way to the finish, losing about 2:35 to the leaders' group. Barring that hard luck, Vande Velde could have been on the podium in Paris.

On Saturday, Vande Velde beat all the Top 10 cyclists. He even passed Alejandro Valverde, who had started on the course 3 minutes ahead of him.

The Top 10 on Stage 20

1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.22
3 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 1.01
4 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle, 1.05
5 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle, 1.37
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 1.55
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 2.06
8 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner, 2.19
9 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 2.21
10 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia, 2.29

The Top 10 Overall

1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 1.05
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 1.20
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 2.00
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle, 3.12
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 4.28
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 6.32
8 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 7.02
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne, 7.26
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 9.12

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