Schleck battles in ITT, but comes up short to Contador

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For just a moment on the road from Bordeaux to Paullac, it looked as if Andy Schleck was riding himself back into the lead in his battle with Alberto Contador for 2010 Tour de France championship.

Schleck attacked hard in the early part of the 32-mile individual time trial course, gaining 6 seconds on Contador at the first time check and coming with 2 seconds of regaining the yellow jersey.

That was as close as Schleck was going to get, however. Either Contador increased his tempo or Schleck began running out of gas, but Schleck started slipping back.

At the finish, the defending champion had beat his younger rival by 32 seconds, giving him a 39-second margin for the last stage of the Tour de France, which is destined to become the 3rd closest ever.

Stage winner

Meanwhile, neither was close to beating the best time of the individual time trial put in by Fabian Cancellara, who won the penultimate stage of this year's Tour. The best time trialist in the peloton also had the advantage of starting early in the day, before an afternoon headwind picked up that played havoc with most of the late-starting cyclists' times.

Although Schleck won't gain the top step of the podium in Paris (the overall contenders traditionally don't contest the yellow jersey on the last day), Denis Mechov did do well enough on Saturday to raise himself one place and onto the podium.

Menchov had come up short all through the Pyrenees for his battle for 3rd place with Sammy Sanchez. The Russian put in a very strong time trial run, however, and now sits 1:39 ahead of Sanchez.

And congratulations to RadioShack's Chris Horner, the only cyclist for that team to break into the Top 10. That's a nice finish for the 38-year-old cyclist who couldn't get onto the his Astana team's Tour de France squad last year.

'Dropped chain' Tour

Saturday's time trial assured Contador his 3rd Tour de France championship; his second in two years.

It might be remembered as the Tour that was decided by a chain slip, because that bit of bad luck on Monday caused Schleck to lose his yellow jersey in the Pyrenees.

I'm sure we're all wondering what will happen next year when these two cyclists match up next year.

Top 10 overall

1. Alberto Contador, Astana

2. Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank – 39 seconds

3. Denis Menchov, Rabobank – 2:01

4. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel Euskadi – 3:40

5. Jurgen van den Broeck, Omega – 6:54

6. Robert Gesink, Rabobank – 9:31

7. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Transitions – 10:15

8. Joaquin Rodriguez, Katusha – 11:37

9. Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas – 11:54

10. Chris Horner, RadioShack – 12:02


13. Levi Leipheimer, RadioShack – 14:40

14. Andreas Kloden, RadioShack – 16:36

16. Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana – 17:46

23. Lance Armstrong, RadioShack – 39:20

26. Cadel Evans, BMC – 50:27

32. Ivan Basso, Liquigas – 59:33

59. George Hincapie, BMC – 1:46

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