Spain's Alberto Contador Wins Stage 18 In Annecy, France
ANNECY, FRANCE - Alberto Contador (left in photo) set the quickest time today in the 2009 Tour De France Stage 18 time trial and won the race in Annecy, France. Contador, already leading the overall Tour standings, rode the 40.5 km time trial course and finished it in first place with a time of 48 minutes 32 seconds - two seconds ahead of Fabian Cancellara, who finished second. Contador said that he felt great after the win and that he was thinking of his overall Tour position in the race and therefore gave it his all. theirEarth took this photo of Contador and Armstong at the Stage 1 "Grand Depart" in Monaco.
The Stage 18 Annecy time trial was mainly flat riding and favoured the sprinters over the climbers. There was just one climb of 223 metres over a distance of 3.5 km that took the riders to the highest elevation of the race at the 734 metre mark of Cote de Bluffy. American Lance Armstrong (right in the photo) managed to improve his overall Tour standings after the Stage 18 race from fourth to third position, but he remains 5 minutes 25 seconds behind the overall leader Contador, his Astana cycling teammate.
In second place in the overall 2009 Tour De France standings is Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, who is 4 minutes 11 seconds behind Contador and rides for the Saxo Bank team. Armstrong said today that it was a tough race for him and that he started off well but nearing the end he got cramped and was down on power. The overall top 5 standings after the Stage 18 results are: Alberto Contador (first) then Andy Schleck (+4:11), Lance Armstrong (+5:25), Bradley Wiggins (+5:36) and Andreas Kloden (+5:38).
There are three stages left before the Stage 21 finish at the Champs Elysées in Paris. Tomorrow's Stage 19 race (Friday July 24) is a 178 km trek that starts in Bourgoin, France and finishes in Aubenas, France. Most riders will conserve their energy and try to maintain their race position for Saturday's difficult Stage 20 Mont Ventoux climb that finishes with a climb from an elevation of 244 metres at Mormoiron to 1912 metres at Mont Ventoux in a distance of just 22 km.
The Stage 19 race tomorrow may allow Lance Armstrong a chance to move up into second position, and he will surely be trying to reduce the 5 minute 25 second lead that Contador has on him so that he can attack this on Saturday in the Mont Ventoux Stage 20 climb. It all proves to be a very exciting last few stages to the finish for the 2009 Tour De France.
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