The Spoke Word: Contador Wins Another Tour de France

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Alberto won his third Tour de France on Sunday as the race concluded with the traditional run-in to Paris. In a surprise to no one, Mark Cavendish won on the Champs Elysees for the second year in a row—the first rider to do so—giving him five stage wins this year to go with the six he collected in 2009.

Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi finished second to hold onto his narrow lead over Cavendish in the points standings and take the final green jersey.

Behind the sprinters, Contador and Schleck finished safely in the main bunch to bring an end to their tense Tour battle It was the most difficult of Contador’s wins so far, and, thus, Schleck’s best chance to date. But a dropped chain at a crucial moment in the Pyrenees cost Schleck valuable time and left him unable to capitalize on Contador’s uncharacteristically poor showing in yesterday’s time trial.

In the end, the 39 seconds Schleck lost with that mechanical mishap was Contador’s final margin of victory after three weeks of racing. Russian Denis Menchov, a winner of two Vueltas and a Giro, rounded out the podium, finishing 2:01 behind Contador in the overall. RadioShack's Chris Horner was the highest placed American, finishing 10th overall.  (Full results.)

Lance Armstrong brought his Tour career to an unspectacular end, finishing 106th today and 23rd overall, 39:20 behind Contador. It’s easy to forget, but Armstrong started this Tour strongly, finishing fourth in the opening prologue, ahead of both Contador and Schleck. But from the moment he suffered an untimely flat on the tough cobbles of Stage 3, the American seemed like an entirely different rider. He deserves credit for continuing onto Paris, but he showed that this was one Tour too many for his 38-year-old body.

He’ll now go home facing the specter of a federal investigation into doping allegations by former teammate Floyd Landis. Undoubtedly not the 2010 Armstrong was envisioning as he stood on the final podium in Paris last year.

That Contador was able to win while not at his best should put even more fear into his rivals. What's more, this year's route—heavy on mountains on light on time trials—perfectly suited Schleck. Contador has now won every Tour he's entered—his team was left out of the 2008 edition—along with one Vuelta and one Giro. At just 28, he certainly has Armstrong's mark of seven Tour wins within his sights.

—John Bradley

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