Alberto Contador of Team Astana is close to securing his second Tour de France victory after winning the final time trial on Thursday, while his teammate Lance Armstrong moved up to third place overall. The three-week race ends Sunday on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
Contador, the 2007 Tour de France winner, finished the 25-mile course on and around Annecy in 48 minutes 31 seconds. After the race he admitted, “I went all out.” He leads Andy Schleck by 4:11, Armstrong by 5:25 and Bradley Wiggins by 5:36.
Stage 18 started under cloudy skies that turned to sunshine but ended with rain late in the afternoon. Friday’s Stage 19 ride was 111 miles from Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas, followed by an uphill leg on Saturday at Mont Ventoux.
Mark Cavendish of Britain captured Friday’s Stage 19 in a sprint finish, becoming the first racer to win five stages in a single Tour since Armstrong in 2004. “This is a high point in my career”, Cavendish told reporters.
Standings after the Friday leg were Alberto Contador, Spain 77:06:18, Andy Schleck, Lexembourg 4:11, and Lance Armstrong, U.S. 5:21.