A Paris promenade caps Contador’s 3rd
Tour de France win continues Spain’s championship streak
PARIS — Alberto Contador stood atop the podium at the Tour de France on Sunday for the third time in four years, struggling to rein in his emotions as Spain’s national anthem echoed across the wide boulevard of the ChampsElysees.
Off to one side, Lance Armstrong applauded and then, without much
Green, black and yellow
Sprinter’s title, Team RadioShack’s uniforms highlight final stage, C7 fanfare, headed toward the exit.
“I need a cold beer,” he said when asked his thoughts at the finish line.
Rarely has the emergence of a sport’s newest superstar dovetailed so neatly with the departure of the last one.
Contador held off a next-to-last day challenge from Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, his runner-up for a second consecutive year, drain-
Continued from C1 ing much of the drama from the 20th and final stage. Denis Menchov of Russia was third overall.
Armstrong completed his last Tour in 23rd place, 39:20 behind Contador, his former teammate and rival.
Yet the sport the 38-year-old Austinite leaves behind hardly wants for budding stars eager to lead the way.
Schleck, for one, vows he’ll win the yellow jersey one day. That promise could produce the next great Tour rivalry, but this year, it wasn’t always sporting.
The high-drama point in the race — and the low point in their avowed friendship — came in Stage 15.
Wearing the yellow jersey, Schleck mounted an attack against Contador on a Pyrenean climb. Suddenly, Schleck’s chain came undone, and he pedaled in vain. Contador sped ahead, and by the stage finish, had taken yellow and 39 seconds on Schleck — his margin Second-place Andy Schleck, left, who finished with the best young rider’s white jersey, watches Alberto Contador celebrate. of overall victory.
Many cycling aficionados cried foul, saying Contador had broken the sport’s unwritten etiquette about not taking advantage of unlucky breaks a rider can’t control — especially when he was wearing yellow.
Some fans jeered Contador, and he later apologized. Schleck, who was fist-swat- ting angry at first, eventually patched things up with his rival and urged the crowd to as well.
By the time they wheeled into Paris for the finale, the coronation trumped any lingering controversy.
“I suffered to get this result,” Contador said. “I don’t have words to express what I feel.”
Schleck pointed to Contador’s yellow shirt.
“This year, it didn’t work. I have a rendezvous in one year with that color there,” he said. “I am better than last year because I cut down the deficit.”
Contador, known as “El Pistolero” for his trademark finger-firing gesture, sipped champagne during Sunday’s leisurely ride and held up three fingers to signal his third Tour win. He exchanged hugs with his Astana teammates, who began chanting “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole” on the ChampsElysees.
Contador became only the second rider in the past 20 years of Tour history to win the race without a single stage victory.
The 27-year-old joins Greg LeMond, Louison Bobet and Philippe Thys as a threetime Tour champion. His victory added to Spain’s recent sports success — coming off its World Cup victory, Rafael Nadal’s win at Wimbledon and Pau Gasol’s NBA title with the Lakers.
Three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador holds the Spanish national flag during a victory lap with his Astana teammates.