Contador crowned champion

PARIS: Alberto Contador of Spain was crowned Tour de France champion for the second

time after the 21st and final stage on Sunday.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish, of the Columbia team, won the final stage at the Champs Elysees to claim a record-equalling sixth victory of the race. Contador, 26, finished the 96th edition of the world’s toughest bike race with a lead of 4min 11sec on Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck of Saxo Bank. Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong, Contador’s teammate at Astana, was third overall at 5:24.

Schleck won the race’s white jersey for the best placed rider aged 25 and under for the second year in a row. Armstrong claimed a commendable place on the podium having decided to end a three-and-a-half year retirement when he returned to professional racing in January.

Norwegian Thor Hushovd did enough at the finish to keep the sprinters’ green jersey for the points competition while Italian Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas won the polka dot jersey for the race’s best climber.

Contador took Spain’s tally to 12 wins in 96 editions of the Tour de France. Reputed climber Federico Bahamontes, nicknamed the ‘Eagle of Toledo’, broke new ground for his countrymen by winning the race in 1959 after years of domination by the French, the Italians and Belgians.

Following in Bahamontes’ trail, albeit 14 years later was the great Luis Ocana, who claimed his only win in 1973 in an era dominated by Belgian great Eddy Merckx. It took another 15 years for Spain to hail a winner, in the shape of Pedro Delgado, in 1988. Only three years later, in 1991, Miguel Indurain showed a pioneering streak by crushing his rivals in the race’s time trials while proving solid in the mountains stages. Those skills allowed him to become the first five-time consecutive winner, his reign lasting until halfway through the 1996 race. It took another 11 years for Spain to hail a new yellow jersey champion, and it came in controversial fashion.

Spaniard Oscar Pereiro finished second in the 2006 race, but was proclaimed champion a year later when American Floyd Landis, who tested positive for testosterone during the race’s stage 17, was officially disqualified.

Similarly, Alberto Contador claimed his first Tour victory in 2007 when he inherited the yellow jersey late in the race after Denmark’s race leader Michael Rasmussen was ejected for suspected doping. Contador secured his first Tour de France triumph in the penultimate stage time trial to beat Australia’s Cadel Evans by 23secs.

In 2008 another Spaniard triumphed, and again Evans

was the runner-up when Carlos Sastre, then riding for the

CSC team, claimed his first

victory in the race.

Tour de france 2009

Stage Winners Yellow Jerseys

Stage 1 Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Fabian Cancellara (SUI)

Stage 2 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Fabian Cancellara (SUI)

Stage 3 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Fabian Cancellara (SUI)

Stage 4 Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Fabian Cancellara (SUI)

Stage 5 Thomas Voeckler (FRA) Fabian Cancellara (SUI)

Stage 6 Thor Hushovd (NOR) Fabian Cancellara (SUI)

Stage 7 Brice Feillu (FRA) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA)

Stage 8 Luis Leon Sanchez (EPS) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA)

Stage 9 Pierrick Fedrigo (FRA) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA)

Stage 10 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA)

Stage 11 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA)

Stage 12 Nicki Sorensen (DEN) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA)

Stage 13 Heinrich Haussler (GER) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA)

Stage 14 Serguei Ivanov (RUS) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA)

Stage 15 Alberto Contador (ESP) Alberto Contador (ESP)

Stage 16 Mikel Astarloza (ESP) Alberto Contador (ESP)

Stage 17 Frank Schleck (LUX) Alberto Contador (ESP)

Stage 18 Alberto Contador (ESP) Alberto Contador (ESP)

Stage 19 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Alberto Contador (ESP)

Stage 20 Juan Manuel Garate (ESP) Alberto Contador (ESP)

Stage 21 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Alberto Contador (ESP)