Contador wins Tour de France

Paris, July 29:

Alberto Contador won the Tour de France on Sunday, an unlikely winner for the three-week race shaken to its core by doping scandals.

The 24-year-old rider for the American Discovery Channel team was the youngest champion since Jan Ullrich of Germany in 1997. His winning margin — 23 seconds ahead of Australia’s Cadel Evans — was the second-narrowest in the Tour’s history, after 3,500 kilometers of racing through Britain, Belgium, Spain and France.

Contador had seemed destined for second place until the Tour was hit by a bombshell just five days from the finish: the dismissal of race leader Michael Rasmussen. Rasmussen’s departure catapulted Contador into the lead, Evans to second, and US rider Levi Leipheimer into third. Those standings held firm through the closing four days.

The 146-kilometre final trek on Sunday from Marcoussis to Paris’ fan-lined Champs-Elysees — seen largely as a ceremonial ride — was won by Daniele Bennati of Italy.