Garate Wins Ventoux, Contador Secures Yellow Jersey, Armstrong Gets Podium Spot
Spain’s Manuel Garate won a tough 103-mile stage up the famed Mont Ventoux in today’s penultimate day of the Tour de France. Germany’s Tony Martin finished a close second— an impressive feat for the young rider from team Columbia HTC.
The intense race for the top three podium spots played out just seconds behind today’s winner. Despite numerous attacks, Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck could not shake off yellow jersey holder Alberto Contador, who stuck to his wheel like a Spanish fly on a horse.
Schleck and his brother Frank also tried but failed to drop Lance Armstrong, who started the day in third place 15 seconds ahead of Frank. The seven-time Tour de France Champion, who finished second twice on Ventoux in 2000 and 2002, finished fifth today with the Schlecks, sealing a third place podium finish in Paris on Sunday. “For an old fart, ending on the podium with these guys is not so bad,” said the 37-year-old Armstrong.
Britain’s Bradley Wiggins suffered over the last miles on Ventoux, getting dropped and then pulling himself back into the fray. He finished a minute back and maintains his fourth place in the overall standings.
Contador, now the all-but-certified Tour Champion, leads second-placed Andy Schleck by 4:11, Armstrong 5:24, Bradley Wiggins in fourth at 6:01, and Frank Schleck in fifth, 6:04.
Tomorrow’s final stage in Paris will be a showdown for sprinters Mark Cavendish and green jersey holder Thor Hushovd. Plan to see the Astana and Saxo-Bank boys celebrate this year’s Tour with champagne during their ride on the Champs Élysées.
–Le Tour Babe